Prescribing the correct medication and dosage to the right person at the right time is crucial.
One hospital is managing to reduce human error by dispensing its drugs with a new solution while saving time and money.
At Cape Cod Hospital, drugs are no longer stored at nurses' stations, and nearly 100 percent of all medications administered through a Pyxis Medstation 2000 Rx system, which can be considered as an ATM for authorized access to drugs.
Pyxis is a San Diego, Calif.-based provider of medication and supply dispensing systems to hospitals, nursing homes and other healthcare facilities.
"The goal in a hospital is to get the right drug to the right patient at the right time," says Spiros Thomas, director of pharmacy at Cape Cod Hospital. "We're able to review more than 90 percent of the in-patient orders by our pharmacists prior to the nurses getting the drugs."
The system, says Thomas, provides him and other pharmacists with the ability to custom-describe what nurses need to know about the drugs--say for example, that it's better to swallow a particular pill 50 minutes before eating.
"We now have an error rate of zero," says Thomas. "With our picking medications ourselves, we make mistakes. It's both about patient safety and economics."
There are about 30 Medstations throughout the 240-bed hospital in Hyannis, Mass., and they are leased on a monthly basis at $22,000 for all of the units.
The Medstations run on Windows NT and use Sybase SQL Anywhere as their database engine.
The new system also minimizes inventory levels and increases efficiency of personnel, says Thomas.
When a Medstation was placed in the hospital's emergency room, the result was improved accountability for the medications, which had caused hospital revenue to increase, according to Thomas.
"Revenue went up due to a better charging mechanism and better billing," says Thomas. "Very often, a charge slip wasn't generated and drugs were almost given away. The machine knows where it's going, and you account for it."