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The Ultimate Solution for Reducing Medication Errors

Are the right patients receiving the right drugs in the right dosage at the right time? Preventing medication errors is high on the agenda not only of hospitals, but the pharmaceutical wholesalers, the pharmaceutical industry and also governments worldwide. The American health care sector is focusing on minimising errors in administering medication. By scanning medication at the patient's bedside, errors can be reduced by as much as 50 per cent or more according to the Federal Drug Administration (FDA). It is no wonder therefore that in mid-2003, the FDA ruled that there should be bar codes on each unit dose. Much research is carried out in order to calculate the percentage of medication errors occurring. Just about every country worldwide has done at least one research project on this subject.

Depending on which research report you read (and depending on the definition of medication error used) the percentage of medication errors varies between 10 and 25 per cent. Almost 0.5 per cent result in permanent injury and 0.25 per cent of patients die due to the wrong medicine or wrong dosage being administered. Although it looks like a small percentage in relation to the size of the population, this number is unacceptable. In addition, the costs of recovery, such as the expense of contra-medication and an extra stay in hospital, are estimated to be an annual ˆ300 million in countries such as The Netherlands. These figures are worrying, especially if you have ever been a patient, and solutions must be found.


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By Eric Tjoa, CEO at Tjoapack BV

Eric Tjoa founded TjoaPack, a pharmaceutical contract packaging company, in 1989. He holds a Masters in Pharmacy and has given several national and international presentations concerning bar coding and standardisation of unit dose packages, amongst other subjects, at the University of the Western Cape, the EAN conferences in 2002 and 2003, and at the EAHP 1999 in Nice.

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