Challenge An East Coast healthcare company and their label printer were engaged in an argument about the reliability of their barcodes. The healthcare company said they were having problems scanning them; the label printer said the barcodes were fine. Both were using scanners (not verifiers).

What we did… The healthcare company contracted with us to “settle the argument”. We found that while there was room for improvement, overall the barcodes performed satisfactorily, achieving ISO B’s and C’s, which was acceptable to the healthcare company’s original requirements.

Solution: the cause of the problem was the unreliability of scanners as a gauge of barcode quality, and the solution to the problem was to use ISO compliant verifiers to measure and grade barcode performance.

In our test report, we advised our client, the healthcare company, that neither they nor their label printer had any idea how their barcodes were performing because they were using scanners rather than ISO compliant test devices (verifiers). We recommended that at a minimum the label printer should be required to verify their output and include a copy of their verification report with every order, and we pointed out the wisdom of the healthcare company also using a verifier to corroborate their vendor’s report, since they (our client) ultimately bear the risk and liability if their barcodes fail.