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Automated Medicine Dispensing Systems from Medbox Reduce Medication Errors

Medbox, Inc. commented today on how their automated medicine dispensing systems help both nurses and pharmacists in hospital settings. 

A study from The Institute of Medicine ("To Err Is Human: Building a Safer Health System") reported that medical errors caused between 44,000 and 98,000 deaths annually. The report included recommendations for specific strategies to reduce medication errors and improve patient safety. It reasonably concluded that a reduction in medication errors might come from improving the complex process of getting medications to patients.

The current manual process for getting even a single medication to a patient in a hospital can be overly complex, with several "touch-points" where errors can occur.

Automated medication dispensing, such as the Medbox system, has been suggested as a technology that can assist in reducing the rates of medication errors.

Janet Harris, RN , CNAA, director of clinical improvement for Cardinal Health's Center for Medication Safety and Clinical Improvement, compared use of an automated medication dispensing system to the manual method, and found the following important differences:

  • In the manual method, the physician order is sent to the pharmacy via fax or courier, whereas in the automated method, the physician order is scanned and sent electronically to a computer monitor in the pharmacy.
  • In the manual method, the pharmacist accepts the paper order and enters the order into the pharmacy information system, whereas in the automated method, the order is automatically input into the pharmacy information system.
  • In the manual method, the pharmacist reviews the order, whereas in the automated method, the pharmacist reviews the order, approves it in the system and adds it to the patient's profile.
  • In the manual method, the pharmacist pulls the medication from the shelf, bags and labels it, whereas in the automated method, the system sends information about the patient, medication, dose, route and time via an interface to the dispensing cabinet on the nursing unit.
  • In the manual method, the medication is tubed, or sent via courier to the nursing unit, whereas in the automated method, 90 to 95 percent of the medications are stocked in the dispensing unit, allowing the nurse to access the patient's profile and pull the medication.

Harris called attention to some specific safety features: "A nurse cannot go home with the only keys to a narcotics cabinet, elapsed time from order to administration is measurably reduced, and the most experienced person—the pharmacist—is reviewing the order," she said.

Chris Woodruff , R.Ph., enterprise pharmacy project lead at Bon Secours Health System Inc., in Marriottsville, Maryland , summarized the benefits of automated dispensing: "Automated dispensing devices are the most effective and safe medication delivery systems available today, and enforce security of the medication use process."

Medbox is a leading developer of automated storage and dispensing solutions for a variety of industries, including the pharmaceutical and healthcare sectors. Their patented systems are in use throughout the nation, and offer features not found on any other system of its type, including fingerprint recognition security, and cameras that document each time a medicine is dispensed.

For more information, contact Medbox at: (800) 762-1452.


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