NHS introduces barcode technology to track patients and their treatment in hospital


The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) has deployed barcode technology to track NHS patients and their treatments and to measure the efficacy of medical equipment.

Medical equipment such as breast implants, replacement hips, medication and surgical tools will be labeled with barcodes which are intended to enhance patient safety.

Adoption of the barcode technology is a part of the UK Department of Health’s £12m Scan4Safety project which is enabling quick and easy tracking of patients throughout their stay in hospital.

Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt said: “Scan4Safety is a world first in healthcare and a vital part of this government’s drive to make the NHS the safest and most transparent healthcare system in the world.

“Using simple barcodes that major industries rely on every day will help to transform standards of care before, during and after patients have treatment, at the same time as freeing up resources for care by reducing waste.”

"Using simple barcodes that major industries rely on every day will help to transform standards of care before, during and after patients have treatment."

Patients wear wristbands featuring the unique barcodes which is used to keep track of medication administered to the patient and equipment used during their treatment.

Scanning of each code can help in identification of faults developed in equipment used during a procedure such as a screw used in a knee operation or breast implant and reveal the specific staff administering treatment noting its time and location.

The technology is also expected to minimise avoidable harm in hospitals such administration of wrong medication to patients and surgery being performed on the wrong part of the body.


Image: Barcode scanning will track NHS patients throughout their stay in the hospital. Photo: © Crown copyright.