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EAHP and GS1 publish report of UZ Leuven meeting on bedside scanning and medicines bar coding
  1. Richard Price
  1. Correspondence to Richard Price, Department of Policy and Advocacy, European Association of Hospital Pharmacy, 3 Rue Abbe Cuypers, Brussels, Brussels 1040, Belgium; richard.price{at}

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The European Association of Hospital Pharmacists (EAHP), in alliance with GS1 Healthcare, has published a report of the proceedings and conclusions of a high level meeting at UZ Leuven on the subject of bedside scanning of medicines at the point of administration to the patient. The practice of bedside scanning is important in the prevention of medication administration error in hospitals.

The meeting focused on the need to improve the way medicines are bar coded in Europe in order to make bedside scanning a more common practice. Implementation is frustrated by the fact that medicines do not regularly contain a bar code on the primary package, meaning hospitals in Europe must currently conduct relabelling of medicines in order to implement the bedside scan of a medicine.

Over 80 representatives from across the healthcare spectrum, including patient groups, sectors of the pharmaceutical industry, and organisations representing doctors, nurses and payers, met in Leuven in October 2013 to hear presentations and take part in the debate about the future. Presentations illustrated how bedside scanning can make a marked difference in terms of preventing medication administration error, a reduction of over 40% according to some studies. It enables a final check that the medicine to be given to the patient is indeed the right one, is about to be given to the right patient, has not been given already, and that it is being given at the right time, and by the right route of administration.

Nurses at UZ Leuven hospital, where bedside scanning has been introduced, demonstrated to event attendees how the system works in practice, as well as the need to achieve systematic bar coding of medicines to the single unit at the point of manufacture if the patient safety system is to become more widespread in Europe. Currently UZ Leuven …

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.