Honesdale - Don’t be surprised if you start seeing more “bar-coding” activity at Wayne Memorial Hospital. It’s for increased patient safety. The Hospital just received a half-million dollars in grants to fund the first year of a multi-year project designed to reduce medication errors. Specifically, Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services have given the hospital $300,000 and $200,000, respectively, to implement a new approach, a new pharmacy system and new technology, including bar-coding and scanning, for dispensing and administering medicine to patients. Once in place, these changes will be used to reduce medication errors during the drug administration process, where 38 percent of medication errors occur, according to industry reports. “While Wayne Memorial already has a good record in this arena, medication errors at hospitals are a national problem,” said David Hoff, hospital chief executive officer. “Most of them, the wrong medicine given, the wrong dose, the wrong time of administration, are due to human error, such as misreading a handwritten entry in a patient’s record. These grants will help us, among other things, automate medication dispensing and thereby cut down the risk of human error.” The Institute of Medicine has reported that medical errors account for 44,000 to 98,000 deaths each year, making medical errors the eighth leading cause of death in the U.S. According to former Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson, the Food and Drug Administration estimates 550,000 adverse medication events could be prevented over the next 20 years with improved use of information technology. “And that’s exactly what these grants will help us do,” stated Len O’Hara, chief pharmacist at the hospital. “Using bar-coding and other technology, we’ll be able to track a patient’s medication record from pre-admission through length of stay through post-discharge. That will help us prevent adverse drug reactions, dosage-related problems and other related errors.” “This project is essentially an enhancement of efforts already underway at Wayne Memorial,” added Hoff. He noted that the hospital has had a Patient Safety Committee for years, which regularly assesses safety efforts and the potential for breaches, such as patient falls. “The federal government has made patient safety a high priority, and we support that. These grants are an acknowledgement of what we’re already doing and a financial boost to help us do more.” The “Automated Pharmacy Ordering and Dispensing” project, begun last year, is expected to continue until 2008 at a cost of roughly $2.5 million dollars. Year one of the project is estimated to cost about $770,507. The balance of the funding will come from hospital sources.