How a barcoding system is revolutionising ways of working

Trusts are trialling the use of barcoding to monitor the movement of blood products, implants and patients’ records – freeing up precious time for nurses 
Scan blood

Barcodes are familiar to everyone from their supermarket shop, but the potential they offer for improving health care in the NHS is only just being explored.

Keeping track of blood stocks by barcode should reduce the chances of running out. Picture: Getty Images

This could range from using them to trace equipment through wards to locating patients who have been given implants that are later recalled. The potential benefits include improved efficiency, reduced costs, fewer errors, and ultimately safer care and improved outcomes for patients.

The possibilities of barcoding are being explored by six ‘demonstrator’ trusts under what is called the GS1 programme (GS1 sets the standards for barcoding), or Scan4Safety. These trusts are receiving funding and support from the Department of Health to implement barcoding and look at the impact. While their changes are still at an early stage, the sites believe they will deliver