|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 27, 2006
|Robotic Pharmacy at Elmhurst Hospital
City's Public Hospitals Leading Trend in Electronic Prescription Technology to Reduce Drug Errors
HHC Facilities Among 1% of Hospitals Nationwide To Have Complete Automated Drug Ordering, Dispensing and Administration to Patients at Bedside
Statement by Alan D. Aviles, President, New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation in Response to “Preventing Medication Errors,” a new report by the Institute of Medicine
“It's surprising that barely 6 percent of US hospitals have technology that can protect the 1.5 million patients injured or killed by drug errors every year. After all, New York City's public hospitals adopted electronic medication order systems ten years ago.
“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 we serve every year. In doing so, they have minimized errors and virtually eliminated guessing games over illegible handwriting, inconsistent or confusing abbreviations and the opportunity for unanticipated adverse drug reactions. The system has built-in automatic alerts to indicate a patient's known medication allergies, possible harmful reactions with the patient's other medications and if a medication order exceeds the recommended dosage.
“But electronic order entry is only part of the advanced clinical technology available and used by HHC to enhance patient safety across the entire chain of medication delivery - from physician orders to dispensing by pharmacists to the administration of drugs at the patient's bedside. We have closed the loop on medication safety by linking both the pharmacy robotic dispensaries and the nurses' computerized medication administration record to our electronic system. Less than 1 percent of the hospitals nationally can make this claim.
“Our robotic pharmacy equipment is leading edge technology that can stock 500 different drugs and fill more than 200 orders every hour with amazing precision and speed. Among many other features, the robot displays for the pharmacist the digital images of both the prescribed drug and the dispensed drug to allow further accuracy by comparing size, color and shape.
“By the end of this year, all HHC hospitals will close the cycle of safety by computerizing the way medications are administered to patients at bedside and help nurses ensure the right medication is administered to the right patient in the right dose and with the right frequency. Next year, we will move to add a final layer of safety also recommended by the Institute of Medicine. We will scan bar codes from patient identification bracelets and medication labels as a fool-proof method of data entry for our computerized medication administration record.
“Medication errors pose a huge health risk and financial burden to our national health care system. But, the investment can have significant returns on both fronts. One of our hospitals reduced overall medication errors by 40 percent in the first year of electronic prescriptions. And our eleven hospital system recently achieved a ten percent reduction in overall mortality rates, a ten percent decline in malpractice claims and a decline to 4.8 days for a patient's average length of stay. We credit much of this success to our recent and relentless focus on patient safety and our $100 million investment in the available technology that helps reduce preventable medical errors.
“Electronic medication ordering is only the tip of the fast emerging iceberg of innovative clinical information technology. Over the coming years, hospitals nationwide will have access to new and even more powerful technology to help keep patients safe. But to maximize the potential to save lives and hardwire hospitals for patient safety, we need to create a true organizational culture across our country that makes patient safety every healthcare worker's responsibility - from housekeepers to trauma surgeons.”
* * * * *
The New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC), the largest municipal hospital and health care system in the country, is a $4.5 billion public benefit corporation that serves 1.3 million New Yorkers and nearly 450,000 who are uninsured. HHC provides medical, mental health and substance abuse services through its 11 acute care hospitals, four skilled nursing facilities, six large diagnostic and treatment centers and more than 80 community based clinics. For more information about HHC, visit www.nyc.gov/hhc.
Click here to read the report by the Institute of Medicine.