Pharmacy Robots Help Reduce Drug Errors
They may not walk and talk, but HHC’s pharmacy robots are modernizing the way prescriptions are filled and eliminating human errors along the way. The robots can fill up to 200 orders an hour with precision and accuracy, eliminate guessing games over illegible hand writing and end confusion over look alike and sound alike drugs.
The robot is only one part of HHC’s advanced clinical technology used across the entire chain of medication delivery – from electronic physician orders to automated systems used by nurses to administer drugs at the patient’s bedside.
In fact, HHC is among the barely 6 percent of US hospitals that have technology to protect the estimated 1.5 million patients injured by drug errors every year – and among only 1 percent of hospitals nationwide that have a completely automated system for ordering, dispensing and administering medication.
“I am puzzled that so few hospitals have adopted technology that reduces drug errors, improves patient safety and saves lives. After all, my patients have benefited from computerized prescription ordering for many years,” said Gregory Almond, MD, of Metropolitan Hospital Department of Emergency Medicine. “The system alerts me to a patient’s allergies, a possible harmful reaction with the patient’s other medications and if a medication order exceeds the recommended dosage.”
Clinicians in the city’s eleven public hospitals and more than 80 community-based family health centers order more than 5 million prescriptions electronically for the 1.3 million patients HHC serves every year.
Next year, HHC will begin adding a final layer of safety by scanning bar codes from patient ID bracelets and medication labels and help nurses ensure the right medication is administered to the right patient in the right dose and with the right frequency.
HHC has spent $100 million over the last few years to enhance its medical information systems, including automating the medication process. The investment pays big dividends by reducing financial risks as well as improving patient safety.