Selecting a Bar Code Scanner for Bedside Medication Scanning – Tips

Good Day;

I am regularly asked my thoughts on “xyz scanner”.  The answer isn’t a straight forward one.  The constant rate of change in scanner technology has vendors “leap frogging” one another in key performance areas like scanning IV bags with white Barcodes on a clear plastic.

While the scanner technology is changing, below are some thoughts on how to make the right choice for your hospital environment.

  1. Make sure you use the Exact same scanners in pharmacy for receipt and/or repack that you use for nursing.
  2. Setup a process in IS for reprogramming the scanners any time they go out for repair, have a way to set them up and test them before they go back to the nursing floors.
  3. Tethered vs Untethered. Get your infection control team involved in this discussion.
  4. 2D Imagers are a must, DO NOT buy 1D only laser style scanners.
  5. Bring in and Demo: Code Corp, Symbol, Honeywell, other big names, walk them each through Pharmacy, see how they scan IV Fluids, small meds and reflective packaged medications like Xopenex.
  6. Give them to each to nursing with a series of medications to test scan.
  7. Watch for low cost off brand no names. I know hospitals that have had to return all their scanners to later go with a more well known brand.
  8. Scanners are only as good as your wristbands for positive patient ID, use 2D Barcodes on the wristband. Make a plan for workarounds, make sure the only patient identifiable barcode you can use to scan is on the armband.
    1. 2D NPR Barcoded Wristbands for Meditech Magic, C/S and 6.x for the Zebra HC100 are available for free download from our downloads tab.
  9. Make up shortcut codes (ie Put the scanner in vibrate mode vs beep mode for night time use) and attach them to your computers.
  10. I like to check with the vendors and see if they are members of and/or support MUSE, the Meditech-L and the, vendors that support users should be first on your list.
  11. In my primary hospital we use Code wireless Bluetooth and mount them to our Workstations on Wheels with the charger.

Check for upcoming classes on Bedside Medication Scanning at the

Charles J. Still, MBA


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