Press release

A.I.M. Consulting Ltd PO Box 8097, Woodley, Reading, Berkshire, RG6 9HG
T/F: +44 (0)118 944 1580 Mobile: +44 (0)791 211 3191
E: aimconsultinguk@btinternet.com 
Issued 5th August 2010 For Immediate Release

Patient Safety one beep at a time

READING, 5th August 2010 – Every year 20,000 people die unnecessary deaths in hospital, because they’ve been given, for example, the wrong medicine or the wrong dose, but now barcode technology – most commonly used in supermarkets – could save thousands of lives.

It’s a BIG claim, but one that Janice Kite, Managing Director, A.I.M. Consulting Ltd believes can be backed up

How could lives be saved? Through the use of barcodes in hospitals.

Barcodes (an auto-identification and data capture (AIDC) technology) have been around for decades and are ubiquitous in supermarkets where every product carries a barcode; but they’re not used in the same way in hospitals.

A.I.M. Consulting Ltd, founded by Janice Kite, an international business consultant, believes that by identifying each patient, care-giver and medical product (medicine or medical device) with a barcode, hospitals could reduce the risk of, for example, wrong medicine or dose to the wrong patient.

Suppliers of pharmaceuticals and medical devices have already realised the benefits and are increasingly putting barcodes on to packaging; particularly if the product is available in a retail outlet such as a supermarket or a chemist (e.g. Boots) as well as hospitals, but many hospitals don’t use them.

Is there a patient safety issue?

In the Department of Health’s publication “Building a Safer NHS for Patients” (NHS, 2001)1 it states that “Adverse events occur in around 10% of acute admissions, or at a rate of 850,000 per year. Adverse events cost approx £2 billion/year in hospital stays alone… There are 44,000 deaths of which 20,000 could be avoidable…

Has implementation of AIDC been considered as a way to improve patient safety?


In 2006 Kite published her critically acclaimed MBA Dissertation22 on patient safety and it concluded that barcodes should be adopted to ““…address reported adverse incidents…

The Department of Health considered barcodes to improve patient safety and in 2007 published Coding for Success 3which recommended “bboth industry and NHS adopt the GS1 4 system of coding standards…” this was followed by Connecting for Health establishing a contract with the local GS1 Member Organisation, GS1 UK5, to provide membership free to NHS Trusts in England. Even so, the adoption remains fragmented.

Back to the future

The claim can be backed up: Lives could be saved – one beep at a time. Through the use of barcodes in hospitals:

  • There is a patient safety issue
  • There are barcodes on packaging
  • There is a push to make savings in the NHS

The numerous and increasing number of case studies6 from around the world support the claim and demonstrate that implementation of barcodes does improve patient safety and operational efficiency and reduce costs.

To find out more on this topic and A.I.M. Consulting Ltd visit our new website (www.aimconsultinguk.co.uk).

To follow (and contribute to!) the debate visit Janice Kite’s new BLOG http://nhstrace.wordpress.com/: Planned posts: Reviews of MBA Dissertation conclusions and recommendations2, Coding for Success3… and more.

Editor’s Note:

  1. Department of Health’s publication “Building a Safer NHS for Patients” (NHS, 2001) set out the (previous) Government’s plans for promoting patient safety.http://www.dh.gov.uk/en/Publicationsandstatistics/Publications/PublicationsPolicyAndGuidance/DH_4006525
  2. Janice Kite’s MBA Dissertation: Hypothesis: Medical Device manufacturer applied or embedded RFID has benefits to Patient Safety over existing Auto-ID technologies, e.g. Bar Codes.www.aimconsultinguk.co.uk/2063088%20J%20Kite%20Dissertation.pdf
  3. D3. Department of Health’s “guidance to promote and support use of auto identification (barcoding and similar technologies) to increase patient safety and improve efficiency… There is evidence of real improvements to patient safety when coding systems are used to match patients to their care…Using coding to manage supplies and purchasing electronically can cut costs dramatically as well as improve efficiency…” http://www.dh.gov.uk/en/Publicationsandstatistics/Publications/PublicationsPolicyAndGuidance/DH_066082
  4. GS1 is a neutral, not-for-profit standards organisation dedicated to the design and implementation of global standards and solutions to improve the efficiency and visibility in supply chains. GS1 Healthcare is a global user community consisting of all Healthcare supply chain stakeholders, including manufacturers, distributors, Healthcare providers, industry associations and regulatory authorities. Their mission “…is to lead the Healthcare sector to the successful development and implementation of global standards by bringing together experts in Healthcare to enhance patient safety and supply chain efficiencies.” www.gs1.org/healthcare
  5. GS1 UK is the local GS1 member organisation (MO) www.gs1uk.org
  6. Case studies that support the claim and demonstrate that implementation of barcodes does improve patient safety and operational efficiency and reduce costs. http://www.gs1.org/healthcare/library#case_studies
  7. About A.I.M. Consulting Ltd: Established in November 2007 as a provider of niche consultancy to healthcare organisations. Our Vision is to: Improve patient safety one beep at a time and our Mission is: To provide consultancy and services to UK healthcare organizations who are implementing barcode, auto-identification & data capture (AIDC) and traceability systems.Janice Kite’s healthcare, commercial, traceability and GS1 Standards expertise gained over 25+ years, nationally and internationally, positions A.I.M. Consulting Ltd uniquely to support client’s implementation of barcode and traceability systems to deliver incremental operational process improvements andimprove patient safety one beep at a time. at a time.
Contact: Janice Kite, Managing Director, A.I.M. Consulting Ltd,
PO Box 8097, Woodley, Reading, Berkshire, RG6 9HG, UK
M: 0791 211 3191, T: 0118 944 1580, E: aimconsultinguk@btinternet.com

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