By Adriana Barbat
Sixty-one new drug-labeling machines have been placed in the operating rooms at UF Health.
The Codonics Safe Label System machines dispense labels by using the bar code found on drug vials. The clinician scans a badge granting authorization, then scans the drug, and a label is printed within seconds, ready to be applied to a syringe, fluid, or IV bag.
Hospital regulations require that all drugs administered to patients be labeled with several pieces of information, including drug name, concentration, expiration, preparer, and time and date of preparation.
The machines save clinicians valuable time in the operating room — time that was previously spent hand-writing labels. Before the machines were introduced in late August, syringes were labeled with a piece of tape, said Associate Professor of Anesthesiology Laurie Davies, MD, who serves on the Medication Safety Task Force that was responsible for bringing these machines to the hospital. But it was difficult to cram so much information onto such a small area without sacrificing legibility. These machines eliminate this problem. Printing the labels ensures they can be easily read and understood. As an extra safety precaution, the new printed labels are also color coded, enabling physicians to easily tell the drugs apart.
Aneel Deshmukh, MD, a resident in his second clinical anesthesiology year, was delighted to find these labeling machines had been introduced to the operating rooms. “I really appreciate the investment our department has made in the new Codonics label-making machines,” he said. The new labeling system is “virtually effortless and significantly faster,” he said, and residents who have had experience using them were excited to have them in the operating rooms.
The next step in this drug-labeling improvement process is to stock all of the operating rooms with a separate scanner that can log this information in the electronic health record. This scanner would allow clinicians to rescan the printed drug label and pull up the administration record for the drug so that the quantity can be recorded, Dr. Davies said. This would save clinicians several clicks and eliminate almost all room for error in drug records, further improving operating room efficiency and patient safety. Dr. Davies said the Medication Safety Task Force plans to request more labeling machines for other workstations where anesthesia is delivered, including interventional radiology and catheterization laboratories.