The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations has dropped from consideration a proposal to require bedside bar-coding systems in hospitals to ensure that correct medications are matched to patients. The proposal was among several recommended in April by an expert panel charged with advising the JCAHO on additions and revisions to its list of National Patient Safety Goals. But the JCAHO Board of Commissioners voted down the proposal, a spokeswoman said. An April 30 letter from the American Hospital Association petitioned the JCAHO not to specify the use of bar-code technology as the sole method of implementing the larger goal of "matching patients to medications, tests and treatments that are ordered for them." The AHA contended that such a requirement "locks accredited hospitals into adoption of a single technology solution that may not be the one most efficacious in improving the safety of the patients they serve." The proposal called for hospitals to develop a bedside bar-code medication management capability by Jan. 1, 2007.
Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.) has called a 1 p.m. news conference Tuesday to issue results of a government report expected to be critical of the JCAHO's accreditation practices and approach. An aide to Stark did not give details but said the report by the Government Accountability Office (formerly the General Accounting Office) will pertain to issues of quality. Also attending the conference will be U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa). -- by John Morrissey