Barcode in Medication Administration (BCMA) System

The healthcare industry is familiar with hectic workflow and stress. Hence, we cannot deny that healthcare settings are error-prone. Medical administration is quite a complex process where mistakes come with a high price to pay. According to WHO, 2.6 million people die every year due to medical errors. Hence it became necessary to reduce multifactorial human errors and enhance patient safety measures. Of many methods explored, barcode technological advancements showed efficacy in operation. In fact, barcodes are proving to be an essential add-on for quality healthcare services.

Why should medication errors be prevented?

Medication errors are simply those preventable errors that ultimately harm the patient. A healthcare professional like a doctor or nurse, pharmacist, or even the patient can make them. These lead to inappropriate medication use in patients, which in turn causes adverse drug effects (ADEs). The traditional method relied on medications which were paper records. In situations of heath crisis we often encounter these days, frequent medication errors are a sure bottleneck. Some even say that medical errors are one of the three leading causes of death worldwide. On the other hand, most of these are detectable in the early medication stages. Thus, you can avoid life-threatening scenarios by embracing error reduction strategies.

What is barcode medication administration?

Barcodes are almost everywhere. But its incorporation into the healthcare systems has been a slow climb. Eastern Kansas Healthcare and the Colmery-O’Neil VA medical center designed the Barcode Medication Administration (BCMA) in 1994. Inspired by barcodes in the car rental system, it was a nurse who came up with the idea. BCMA allows you to document and electronically administer medications. The initial design was for point of care or bedside. Currently, it is widely popular in pharmacies.

BCMA uses barcodes on both patients and medication. It can track you from the moment you enter your information into the hospital server. Along with e-MAR(electronic medication administration), BCMA comprehends all the medication records of the patient. Furthermore, it adheres to the “five rights” as per the universal standard of medication administration – the right patient is given the right medication in the right dose at the right time through the right route of administration. According to studies, error reduction of 40 to 70 percent was found in medical administration after implementing barcode medication administration. The barcodes used may be 1D or 2D. 1D barcodes are common among drug and patient identification procedures. Advancement in technology has brought QR codes (2D) into the limelight as they can contain more information. Besides, your smartphone can read them.

What are the components of BCMA?

BCMA, like other barcode inventory management systems, has both hardware and software components. Hardware components include barcode printers and scanners. These should be reliable, readily available, and user-friendly. An efficient barcode printer can print the required number of labels in-house, and the scanner reads it to analyze data. A strong server is a doubtless part of BCMA. Meanwhile, a central computer software can save, monitor, and verify patient records.

How does barcode medication administration system work?

It is possible to bring barcodes into action at different stages of medication administration. Every patient gets a barcoded wristband. This identification band has all necessary patient information, including personal data and treatment acquired. After the doctor prescribes the required medication to the patient, the pharmacy gets a copy of the prescription. The pharmacist looks over the database information and gives a barcoded medication accordingly. Afterwards, the patient receives this medication. The caregiver or the nurse who administers the medication will scan the patient’s wristband. If the system matches both information, it is safe to give the medicines to the patient. On the other hand, if it doesn’t match, the nurse can check for errors. This cross-check helps to validate patient records and prevent mismanagement of medication.

Importance of Barcoded wristbands

ID wristbands are an integral part of BCMA. The use of barcoded wristbands has redefined the patient identification and documentation process. They act as identification codes with critical information regarding the patient. You can easily procure wristband printers and scanners from trusted manufacturers. Besides, keeping records is now easy without the risk of human errors from the manual entry of data. It is vital to test the wristband for efficiency and durability. For one thing, the patient has to wear the ID band from the point of admittance to discharge from treatment. The patients are identified with an ID number encoded in the barcode. Other important details in the barcode include the patient’s name, age, contact details, medical history, administered medication with required dosage, and method of administration.

What are the benefits of using Barcode Medication Administration (BCMA)?

Benefits of using Barcode Medication Administration (BCMA) in hospitals and healthcare operations

  • Reduction in error: Medication administration encounters errors in various sections of the healthcare system. An error may occur in identifying what the ordering physician meant through his handwriting and abbreviations. Then there are chances of misinterpretation of dosages and prescriptions. A more controlled and automated exercise on patient records reduces human errors.
  • Notification alerts: BCMA acts like an extra eye on the patient. It can easily monitor the medical history, and the system quickly alerts for allergic reactions. Moreover, the nurses can receive notifications of missing doses and expiration dates of the medication given.
  • Enhance infection control practices: BCMA ensures you have a minimum number of medication interactions. In case of an infectious health condition, this is essential to curb the spread.
  • Improved patient safety: Medical errors can delay the recovery of patients. Staying in the hospital for more time just because of faulty treatment is unacceptable. Additionally, treatment charges may also shoot up. Quality healthcare is every patient’s right.
  • Easy to implement: For both hardware and software requirements, we have plenty of options in-store. An efficient barcode system can make a low-cost and reliable solution to medical administration. Still, staff training can help employees have an idea of the technology they are using.
  • Improve professional satisfaction: Nurses are usually the forefront participants in medical administration. Healthcare professionals can streamline their time allotments to take better care of patients than fret over medication errors. Thus, staff satisfaction and employee productivity are enhanced.
  • Easy medication inventory management: BCMA can be used to prepare audit reports and statistics to notify possible requirements in the inventory. Like in every other industry, barcodes can manage inventory and assets in hospitals.

Applications of barcodes in hospital operations

Medical administration is just one of the many applications that barcodes have in a hospital. To summarize, here are the specific fields of expertise in healthcare, with barcode inventory management:

  • Drug identification
  • Patient identification
  • Lab specimen collection and identification
  • Identification and sterilization of surgical instrument
  • Electronic health record
  • Medication management
  • Real-time location of patient, drug or staff.


The proper implementation of technology is necessary to ease the pressure building up on healthcare systems. In healthcare, efficient tracking is not only about saving investments – it’s about saving lives. Hence, barcode equipment needs to be placeable, accessible, compatible, and durable. Although BMCA is quite user-friendly, appropriate staff training can aid in better results. Technowave is dedicated to provide patient-centric care in hospitals and adapt to changing demands of healthcare practice. We guide you through efficient barcode products like wristband printers and solutions while associating with top brands.

Running out of time? Here’s a quick summary to the blog!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *