Sunday, March 27, 2011

Glenna Sue Kinnick, RN

Today I received a very kind note from Rhonda Flynn, a family historian and nursing student. Her team of fellow students prepared the following report for a class project and she knew I had researched the family and kindly sent me a copy along with some supporting documents. I share it with you, with her permission, for our family records.
If anyone who reads this knows more about "Gee Sue" I would love to hear from you. The nickname comes from the note of a co-worker I found in my research, that is posted following the student report, below.

North Georgia College State University
Nursing School

Group Members:
Rhonda Flynn
Ginger Pence
Linsey Baker
Kala Cain
Brittany Fain

Historic Leader:  Glenna Sue Kinnick, RN

Date of Birth:  August 20, 1946

Date of Death:  July 18, 1997

Training/Education:   Unknown

Practice:  Registered Nurse practicing at the Topeka VA Medical Center in Kansas

Contribution to Nursing:  BCMA

The Bar Code Medication Administration system (BCMA) has saved thousands of lives and reduced medication administration errors by 54%.  Ms. Kinnick is the reason the BCMA exists.  She was concerned about medication errors, and was struck with the BCMA idea when returning a rental car.  The clerk scanned the car, and she realized then that patients could be scanned.   She fought long and hard for this project despite her battle with breast cancer, from which she died after seeing only the pilot program working.  She did not live long enough to see the incredible results of her idea and efforts.

We chose Glenna Sue Kinnick, RN, as our historical figure because of her ingenuity, devotion, and passion.  While on her death bed she is quoted as saying, “Keep fighting to keep the project going.”  She fought a long hard battle and was possibly one of the most effective patient advocates.

Glenna Sue Kinnick, RN

Glenna Sue Kinnick, RN, was born on August 20, 1946.   She was an amazing lady with an inspiring story.  She was concerned with patient safety, and though she was terminally ill with breast cancer at the time, she fought for a program she believed would decrease patient medication errors.   She lived to see the pilot program and realize the amazing results of the reduction in medication errors.  Unfortunately, she died in 1997, at the age of 51, without first seeing her program not only in the VA Hospital where she worked, but all VA hospitals and eventually throughout the country in several hospitals.  She may have never dreamed that in 2003 the Food and Drug Administration would propose hospitals nation-wide be asked to adopt her system, which came to be known as the Medical Bar Code Scanning System.

As first year nursing students, we were introduced to Ms. Kinnick by Craven (2008) on page 498 where we are told that she was the mastermind behind the Bar Code Medication Administration (BCMA) system.  Ms. Kinnick was a registered nurse who practiced for many years at the Eastern Kansas Veterans Administration Health Care system.  In 1992, she was returning a rental car and noticed the attendant scanning the vehicle.  It was then that she began to wonder if bar coding could be used to reduce patient medication errors.

The positive effects the BCMA has had on patient care and nursing satisfaction are significant.  Coyle, G., & Heinen, M. (2005) state, “BCMA has had a major positive impact on daily practice of licensed nursing staff.”  Paoletti (2007) states that there has been a 54% reduction of medication administration errors was observed after implementing the BCMA.

We chose Glenna Sue Kinnick, RN, as our historical figure because of her ingenuity, devotion, and passion.  While on her death bed she is quoted as saying, “Keep fighting to keep the project going.”  She fought a long hard battle and was possibly one of the most effective patient advocates. 


Coyle, G., & Heinen, M. (2005).  Evolution of BCMA within the Department of Veterans
    Affairs. . . Bar Code Medication Administration.  Nursing Administration
    Quarterly, 29(1) 32-38.  Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Craven, Ruth F. & Hirnle, Constance J. (2008).  Fundamentals of Nursing, 6th ed. In J.
Rodenberger & D. DiPalma. (Eds), China:  Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Department of Veterans Affairs (2003).  The Legacy of VA Women Pioneers.  [Link has article and photo] VAnguard March/April 2003.  Washington, D.C. 20420,  p.16

Paoletti, R., Suess, T., Lesko, M., Feroli, A., Kennel, J., Mahler, J., & Sauders, T. (2007).
    Using bar-code technology and medication observation methodology for
    Safe medication administration. American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy,
    64(5), 536-543. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Scheer, Chris.  “The Legacy of VA Women Pioneers,” Vanguard Mar.2003; page 16.

Tappen, R., Weiss, S., & Whitehead, D. (2010). Essentials of Nursing Leadership
    and Management (5th ed.). Philadelphia: F.A. Davis.   


There Was More to Sue Kinnick than BCMA

Most of us should be so fortunate to leave such a legacy as Glenna Sue Kinnick,
R.N., in your “Legacy of VA Women Pioneers,” March/April 2003. “Gee Sue,” as we
all called her, was a multi-dimensional woman, for which the wireless, hand held bar
code administration program was only one achievement.

While working on that project, she was also working on her Ed.D., teaching 16 hours a week at the LPN school, and teaching various classes in the Nursing Education Department. She was truly a pioneer in nursing informatics. As an aside, she was also an active grandmother, and served as a personal mentor to myself and countless others.

As pointed out in the article, she set a high standard, working until the day before her death.
Traveling down life’s road, I meet many people, but only rarely someone of the caliber of Gee Sue.

To the many of us who knew and worked with her, she was an example and a blessing.

Walter L. Hall
Administrative Officer
Atlanta VAMC

Family is Forever!  ;-)

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