ADCs and Patient Safety

A pharmacy director’s responsibilities don’t stop with the accurate dispensing of critical medicines to support treatment plans. They play a key role in promoting patient safety by working to prevent medication errors. One of the ways they accomplish this is through the effective use of automated dispensing cabinets (ADCs). Automated medication dispensing can reduce medication errors, heighten medication security and diversion prevention, improve medication tracking and regulatory compliance, and improve quality of care.

Role in Patient Safety
A well-designed ADC can create a better workflow for nurses who are administering medications on the floor while keeping the medications secure. Automated dispensing and labeling of those medications saves valuable time and reduces medication errors. With a greater regulatory focus on transparency in hospital operations (for safety and for reimbursement) and accuracy in medication labeling, using an ADC also supports your hospital’s compliance measures.

To maximize your investment in ADCs, look for the following features which are proven to reduce medication errors and streamline workflow:
• Confirmation that the right medication is loaded into the right location in the ADC. ADCs allow pharmacy technicians and nurses to scan medications for restocks/returns/and even issues, reducing the risk of a medication being incorrectly stocked.
• An integrated medication label printer that reduces the need for nurses to hand-write labels, and increases accuracy and safety. Automated labels contain patient information, medication description, dosing, time and date, and can also include the medication bar code for BCMA. The label ensures that the medications are identified during transport, reducing the likelihood of a non-labeled medication mix-up during the administration process.
• A profiling mode which ensures that medications are removed only when a medication order has been approved by the pharmacist. This provides the confidence that the order has been reviewed by the pharmacy for duplicate therapy or allergy issues.
• Management of an approved medication override list in a “profiled area” where a medication override may occur at the ADC.
• Tracking, and subsequent removal, of expired inventory.
• The use of remote medication management software, such as Anywhere RN™ from Omnicell, that allows nurses to manage medications in areas where they are less likely to be interrupted, removing a main cause of medication mistakes.
• Built-in dispensing alerts for high-risk or recovery medications, calling attention to these events to the appropriate clinical staff.

In the healthcare industry, you can’t over-emphasize the importance of patient safety and technologies that further that goal. Effective utilization of ADCs is a key component in driving down medication errors, and increasing cost efficiencies.
Please share your views on which features of your ADCs you find most valuable in maximizing patient safety.

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