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CORRECT MEDS - MAK Digitally Verifies Accuracy Before Prescriptions are Administered

Published: Synapse, 2010 - Vol. 3

Medication Administration Check, known at The Chester County Hospital as MAK, is the Hospital's newest patient safety technology. Through digital bar-coding, its purpose is to assist the clinical team by ensuring that the patients are receiving medication accurately. The goal: The Right Patient, the Right Drug, the Right Dose, the Right Route, the Right Time.

MAK Pharmacy"MAK serves as an additional safeguard for patients," says Angela Coladonato, RN, MSN, NEA-BC, Senior Vice President for Nursing. "Medication is always being double-checked - both manually and electronically - before it is given to the patient every time."

All patients on every unit and their prescribed medications are assigned digital identifications within the Hospital's electronic medical record system. MAK works by digitally aligning the patient with their prescribed medicine. Prior to receiving any medicine, MAK will do an instant data check to guarantee that the right patient is receiving the proper medicine, including the correct amount at the appropriate time using the accurate method. If any of the elements are incorrect, MAK will promptly alert the clinician to ensure that no inadvertent mistakes are made. MAK communicates automatically with the Hospital's Pharmacy and the rest of the patient's electronic medical record, giving the clinical team the full, up-to-the-minute picture of a patient's care.

Joe Minkiewicz, RPh, Pharmacy-MAK Analyst, considers the MAK process to be a triangle connecting the patients, the nurses and the Hospital's pharmacists. "MAK is a marriage between the Hospital Pharmacy and the clinical team working together to meet the needs of the patients," he says.

MAK ScanningIn the Pharmacy, the MAK process begins with the arrival of the medications at the Hospital. Each item is checked for a manufacturer's bar code or given a bar code. The item is scanned by the Pharmacy staff to assure proper identification when the medication is ordered, scanned and administered by the nurse at the patient's bedside.

Pharmacy Director Karen A. Novielli, RPh, MBA, adds, "The pharmacists have worked diligently to make the MAK process as efficient as possible for the nurses, physicians and the patients."

Patients will notice a new computer monitor in every room, which serves as a convenient bedside nurse's station. At the bedside, nurses, physicians and other clinicians will swipe their high-tech identification badges, called "smart cards," to access the patient's electronic medical record. On every patient identification wristband, there are a series of black-and-white bar codes. The clinician uses the hand-held MAK scanner to match the bar codes on the wristband with the prescribed medication before every medication administration.

Kathy Zopf-Herling, MSN, RN-BC, Director of Nursing Informatics, says, "Although some hospitals have introduced bar-coding to their medication administration practices, we are the only local hospital to introduce 'smart card' technology right in the patient's room." The presence of the in-room workstation allows for medications to be documented and verified right at the bedside, allowing the medical record to be updated immediately at the point of care.

Coladonato adds, "The advantage of our cutting-edge design is it enables the nurses and physicians to listen more, provide more education and better address the patient's individual health needs."

By Lisa M. Huffman

Last Updated: 1/20/2011