Abbott To Bar Code Pharmaceuticals

Citing industry need for improved tracking methods, officials at Abbott Laboratories have announced the company will have all of their nearly 1,000 injectable pharmaceuticals bar coded by 2003 to ensure patient safety.

Some 45 percent of the company's products are currently labeled with unit-of-use bar codes. The bar codes are included in a five-part system to double check that patients are receiving the correct medication. This system is called the five-rights: the right patient, right drug, right dose, right route of administration and right time.

The announcement has been hailed as an industry initiative for two reasons. First, the majority of all pharmaceuticals given in hospitals are administered via injection. Second, Abbott is the leading manufacturer of such injectable drugs, leading officials to predict the system should enhance patient safety.