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North Shore Hospital Barcodes Anaesthetic Drugs

18 March 2004

North Shore Hospital Barcodes Anaesthetic Drugs

North Shore Hospital is the first public hospital in New Zealand to implement a fully integrated drug delivery and electronic anaesthetic recording system in its operating theatres.1

IDAS, or Integrated Drug Administration System, is aimed at reducing errors by providing the anaesthetist with audio and visual prompts during the administration of anaesthesia.

North Shore Hospital specialist anaesthetist Tania Hunter says the system combines the automated capture of patient details and vital signs with drug administration and surgical events information using bar code technology.

International experts estimate that each anaesthetist will have approximately one drug error for every 133 cases, although not necessarily all of these will result in an adverse outcome. Dr Hunter says IDAS provides the tools to improve patient safety.

“The highest incidence of adverse outcomes stems from drug administration errors. The most common clinical error among healthcare practitioners worldwide is the wrong drug being given at the wrong time. At North Shore we’ve said drug safety is something we really want to focus on since patient safety is our paramount concern.”

As well as providing improved patient safety, collated data can subsequently be used for research and to assist in clinical process development.

“Anaesthetic information is difficult and time consuming to obtain using paper systems, and much of the physiological information is challenging to analyse,” says Dr Hunter. MORE… Waitemata CEO Dwayne Crombie, who is also chair of the National Safe Medicines Project, says there are a raft of projects underway within the hospital that aim to ensure high standards of patient safety.

“I am a strong advocate for the systems approach to patient care. It is not only the best approach, it is the only approach if we are to reduce the rate of adverse or potentially adverse incidents in New Zealand’s health system. Waitemata aims to be at the forefront when it comes to having good clinical systems and processes in place that are as fail-safe as we can make them, so we can be confident we are delivering high quality care. IDAS is an excellent example of this systems approach.”

Developed by Safer Sleep Ltd using a team of anaesthetists, psychologists and engineers, IDAS is considered by North Shore Hospital anaesthetists to be the best drug safety system available internationally. It was customised to North Shore’s requirements by a project team of anaesthetic and information technology specialists. *

“The team at North Shore Hospital trialled several systems before selecting IDAS. Developed in New Zealand, IDAS is one of the few systems in the world to focus on drug safety as well as the electronic patient record” says Dr Hunter.

All operating rooms at North Shore are now equipped with a computer running the IDAS application. This computer records the individual anaesthetic information for each patient and saves it in a secure central database, as well as printing a standardised anaesthetic.

Information Manager for Waitemata DHB hospitals Adam Sawyer says although IDAS runs in a networked environment, the system is designed to continue to function in theatre in the event of a network failure. MORE…

“IDAS is part of a wider strategy to provide integrated electronic support to clinicians at point of care, as well as providing high quality information for audit and research.”

Waitemata DHB is committed to providing technology to make a difference to clinicians in their daily practice, he says.

“IDAS is compatible with the core electronic patient information systems at Waitemata while data collected by IDAS can be linked to existing patient datasets, allowing for comprehensive analysis. “It provides another step towards the electronic patient record, a core Ministry of Health objective from the WAVE (Working to Add Value through E-information) report.”

The project team worked for a number of months to re-engineer how the application would be used within North Shore Hospital, even customising bespoke brackets to mount the system in theatres which were manufactured and designed in partnership with a local Auckland company. IDAS manufacturers Safer Sleep say the system will be trialled by one of the biggest private hospital chains in the US at the end of April. America’s Food & Drug Agency (FDA) is also set to make bar-coding of all drugs mandatory.

The New Zealand Society of Anaesthetists says it would also like to see IDAS or a similar system available in every operating theatre in New Zealand in the future. [SUBS: See next page for full NZSA statement.] ENDS.


1 Although IDAS has been implemented at other public hospitals ( including Auckland Hospital) North Shore Hospital has been the first to fully integrate a networked and customised solution into all its theatres.

*The project team who worked on integrating the system into North Shore Hospital were: Anaesthetists: Hilmy Ismail, Tania Hunter and Vincent Fong Anaesthetic technician: John Walmsley Project Managers: Hilmy Ismail and Adam Sawyer IT Support: Steve Adams and Health Alliance


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