UCSF uses robotic system to process their patient’s medications
The folks at the UCSF Medical Center have started to use a robotic system which is responsible for counting and processing of their patient’s medications. The new pharmacy currently serves UCSF hospitals at Parnassus and Mount Zion and has the capacity to dispense medications for the new UCSF Medical Center at Mission Bay, scheduled to open in 2014.
Housed in a tightly secured, sterile environment, the automated system prepares oral and injectable medicines, including toxic chemotherapy drugs. An automated inventory management system keeps track of all the products, and one refrigerated and two non-refrigerated automated pharmacy warehouses provide storage and retrieval of medications and supplies.
Aside providing safer environment for pharmacy employees, the automation also frees UCSF pharmacists and nurses to focus on more intellectual tasks and their expertise on direct patient care. By using robots instead of people for repetitive manual tasks, pharmacists and nurses will have more time to work with physicians to determine the best drug therapy for a patient, and to monitor patients for clinical response and adverse drug reactions.
“The automated pharmacy streamlines medication delivery from prescription to patient”, said Lynn Paulsen, PharmD, director of pharmaceutical services at UCSF Medical Center. “It was important to develop a system that is integrated from end to end. Each step in safe, effective medication therapy – from determining the most appropriate drug for an individual patient to administering it–is contingent on the other.”
Once computers at the new pharmacy electronically receive medication orders from UCSF physicians and pharmacists, the robotic system picks, packages, and dispenses individual doses of pills or filled IV syringes. Machines assemble doses onto a thin plastic ring that contains all the medications for a patient for a 12-hour period, which is bar-coded.
In order to verify it is the correct dosage for the patient, the nurses at UCSF Medical Center will begin to use barcode readers to scan the medication at patient’s bedsides. According to folks from UCSF Medical Center, not a single error has occurred in the 350,000 doses of medication prepared during the system’s recent phase in. As the phase-in continues, additional steps in the process will be eliminated as doctors begin inputting prescriptions directly into computers in 2012.