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Barcode Automation: Labeling inside the Laboratory

When it comes to healthcare and medical laboratory work, nothing is more important than patient safety. In a study published by Johns Hopkins, researchers estimated that in the U.S., more than 250,000 deaths per year result from medical errors. The report states that most of these deaths are not problems with the medical professionals but result from systemic problems in the healthcare industry.

Despite advances in safety procedures and laboratory technology, preventable errors still happen. Most of these errors are a result of lack of barcode automation. For example. mislabeled specimens or specimens that are not clearly labeled are the most common medical lab error. The best way to solve this issue is to use barcoded labels on every sample, and to attach the labels as the samples are collected, and preferably, in the presence of the patient. Mobile barcode printers and labels designed for the laboratory environment are the necessary tools for laboratory error reduction.

Mobile Barcode Printers

A healthcare environment is an ideal place for mobile barcode printers. Adding a mobile barcode printer to every cart for use at the point of care ensures positive patient and specimen identification; reducing errors by as much as 80 percent over labeling in batch mode at the nurses station. Printing labels in one central location can lead to mislabeled specimens, or lost specimens, etc. whereas the likelihood of mislabeling at the point of care is less so than printing and labeling in a designated area.

Mobile barcode printers are easy to operate. They connect wirelessly to the network, so nurses, lab technicians and caregivers have quick and easy access to accurate, clearly readable labels. By adopting mobile barcode label printers as a best practice, the medical or lab facility will have improved patient safety, saved time and money and reduced patient and caregiver frustration.

Laboratory Slide Labels

Doctors can’t adequately treat their patients unless they understand the diagnosis, and accurate lab work is the foundation of this understanding. Labeling samples and slides accurately and clearly is imperative for ensuring accuracy. Handwritten labels promote errors because they may be difficult to read or misinterpreted. In addition, most standard inks and paper labels don’t stand up to the harsh environment prevalent in most labs.

Solvents and fixatives used in lab processes can quickly destroy the ink or delaminate a paper label from the adhesive. Should this happen, not only is the patient at risk because of errors that may occur while reading illegible hand-written labels, but they may also suffer delays in receiving a diagnosis or treatment because of lost samples that have completely lost their labels, rendering them unusable.

Labels designed specifically for the laboratory are impervious to typical lab chemicals and solvents such as xylene, stains and alcohol, even after soaking for extended periods. Specially formulated inks offer improved durability and readability, and printed barcodes increase accuracy by eliminating errors in entry or reading. The crisp, clear printed barcodes offer easy one-pass readability by scanners, even on extremely small labels that are difficult for humans to read. The unique adhesives ensure labels remain firmly in place, even under extreme conditions.

Benefits of Lab-Specific Labels and Mobile Barcode Printers

  • Improved Efficiency
    Using mobile barcode printers and readers along with labels and inks designed for the labs allows quick, accurate label printing at the point of collection, and ensures that the specimens remain clearly labeled throughout testing and storage. Caregivers are more efficient, since they do not have to make trips to dedicated stationary printers.
  • Better Patient Care
    Patients receive faster treatment and accurate diagnosis when specimens and slides are clearly labeled. They are not subjected to a second round of specimen collection in the event that a specimen is lost or mislabeled, and the risk of incorrect treatment or missing an important diagnostic clue is greatly reduced.
  • HIPAA Compliance
    Pre-printed barcode labels can reduce the risk of inadvertent HIPAA violations, since the patient’s identity and diagnosis can be coded. Once scanned, the software can use the barcode to identify the proper patient record.

On top of the process benefits that can be realized by utilizing the right printer and labels for the job, laboratories, doctor’s offices and medical facilities can decrease costs, reduce risks and improve patient care. For more information about mobile printing in the lab, contact us today and we’ll share with you some of the successes our customers have realized.

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