gms | German Medical Science

16th Annual Meeting of the German Drug Utilisation Research Group (GAA)

Gesellschaft für Arzneimittelforschung und Arzneimittelepidemiologie

19.11. - 20.11.2009, Berlin

Using RFID for reducing medication errors

Meeting Abstract

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  • corresponding author M. Hartmann - Apotheke des Universitätsklinikums Jena, Germany
  • M. Specht - Klinik für Anästhesiologie und Intensivtherapie des Universitätsklinikums Jena, Germany
  • P. Langkafel - SAP AG, Walldorf, Germany

Gesellschaft für Arzneimittelanwendungsforschung und Arzneimittelepidemiologie e.V. (GAA). 16. Jahrestagung der Gesellschaft für Arzneimittelanwendungsforschung und Arzneimittelepidemiologie. Berlin, 19.-20.11.2009. Düsseldorf: German Medical Science GMS Publishing House; 2009. Doc09gaa13

doi: 10.3205/09gaa13, urn:nbn:de:0183-09gaa130

Published: November 5, 2009

© 2009 Hartmann et al.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( You are free: to Share – to copy, distribute and transmit the work, provided the original author and source are credited.



Background and aim: Medication errors are one of the largest categories of adverse events in healthcare; Reported incidents range from 1.3 to 7.8% (Kanjanarat, 2003) with a median prevalence of 4.3% (Winterstein, 2002). Little reliable data exists on the frequency of medication errors in European countries. Nevertheless, available studies carried out in Europe reveal that medication errors have a clinical and economic impact of similar magnitude as it does in the USA and other countries. Studies carried out by ISMP-Spain have indicated that 1.4% of hospitalised patients in Spain suffer one or more preventable adverse drug events during their hospital stays with mean cost of € 3000 per event (Otero López MJ, 2001).

Material and method: Jena University Hospital has extended its deployment of SAP NetWeaver to identify, track and match medication accurately and in real-time from the hospital’s pharmacy until they are administered to patients in the critical care department. In order to ensure that end-to-end process from the pharmacy to the patient, all unit doses of patient medication, transport boxes of the pharmacy and steel containers of the automatic, internal transport system had to be equipped with Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags.

Results: By using passive RFID tags, medication can be tracked in real-time from the hospital’s pharmacy to intensive care and individual patients. Medication can be matched digitally to the individual patient by checking the reference codes on an RFID bracelet worn by the patient. Using handheld scanners, the nursing staff can read these codes, link them to the patient data on file in the hospital’s IT system and gain instant access to detailed information on the patient.

Conclusions: By gaining the ability to track and match medication with RFID tags throughout the hospital in real-time, it is possible to reduce the risk of any dispensing errors.