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Medication Errors and Bar Codes


The quality of medical care is the degree to which medical services provided to individuals and groups of the population increase the likelihood of achieving desired health outcomes and correspond to evidence-based professional knowledge. There is a growing understanding that high-quality medical care is the key to preserving life and ensuring well-being. Being a developed country, Canada puts much effort into improving its healthcare system by elaborating on different projects. The improvement plan regarding the medication incidents involving paramedics is an example of a decent medical initiative.

Quality Improvement Models

When compiling healthcare quality betterment projects, organizations resort to different models. In the case of advancing medication safety, the institute used several improvement patterns: PDSA, Focus PDCA, FADE, and Six Sigma.


Focus PDCA is a primary pattern implemented for advancing pharmaceuticals’ safety. The model presumes finding a problem, organizing a team of professionals, clarifying the process, understanding major problem causes, and selecting an improvement measure. It was initially identified that specific drugs cause harm due to medication errors in practice. A crew of medical workers discussed the issues and found underlying reasons. Later, they selected a strategy to provide drug safety by reporting the mistakes. The secondary model used in the chosen project is PDSA, which represents a four-stage resolution based on planning, doing, studying, and acting. The healthcare professionals studied the problem and developed a plan of action based on analyzing the potentially harmful medications prescribed by mistake (ISMP Canada, 2020). Finally, the FADE model implies focusing, researching, developing, and executing the plan. In terms of the chosen projects, the developers paid centered on one issue related to medication errors and conducted thorough research regarding the underlying causes. Eventually, the goal was defined, and different tactics were executed.

Issue Background

The primary issue the project raised was medication errors without bar codes which was a potential threat to the patients. Mistakes in prescribing, distributing, and taking medications are quite common even in countries with advanced medicine (“Medication without harm,” 2018). Medical errors can occur anywhere in the healthcare system: hospitals, polyclinics, surgical centers, doctors’ offices, nursing homes, pharmacies, and nursing homes. The current state of the problem is better now since the healthcare facilities shift to electronic systems that help find proper treatment, choose appropriate dosage, and check the expiration date (“Analysis of paramedicine medication,” 2020). The outcomes of the selected initiative were positive – automated bar codes were standardized so they could be identified in all healthcare institutions. The agreement towards establishing the standards of these bar codes were established.

Four Steps of Improvement Projects

The improvement goal was to analyze the root causes leading paramedics to prescribe wrong medications and develop a strategy to reduce the rate of drug errors. The practices included inventory management, communication between the personnel during care transitions, and labelling medications (“Analysis of paramedicine medication,” 2020). However, these interventions were underdeveloped and still caused pharmaceutical errors. The improvements could be achieved by resorting to the standards of medication concentration and upgrading the equipment, including the installation of electronic programs assisting healthcare professionals (ISMP Canada, 2020). The project regarding the reduction of medication errors was successful since the Canadian Patient Safety Institute (ISMP) launched webinars and other tasks regarding avoiding mistakes in drug prescription.


In summary, medication errors are widespread in different hospitals across the country. ISMP has managed to solve the issue by analyzing the underlying causes and offering opportunities for healthcare quality improvement. It is recommended that paramedics check equipment and pharmaceutical daily in order to avoid incidents. In general, they should conduct regular inventory, avoid relying on their experience only and use standardized guidelines for drug prescription.


Medication without harm – Canada’s contribution to a global effort to reduce medication errors. (2018). CPSI ICSP. Web.

Analysis of paramedicine medication errors uncovers challenges and opportunities for improvement. (2020). ISMP. Web.

ISMP Canada. (2020). Multi-incident analysis of incidents involving paramedicine. (2020). ISMP Canada Safety Bulletin, 20(1), 1-4.

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ApeGrade. 2023. "Medication Errors and Bar Codes." June 24, 2023. https://apegrade.com/medication-errors-and-bar-codes/.


ApeGrade. (2023) 'Medication Errors and Bar Codes'. 24 June.

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