Medication administration errors can significantly harm patients and may even lead to a person’s death. In addition, healthcare providers take on a significant financial burden when an error of this type is made. Humans make mistakes, but these mistakes are costly both literally and figuratively when they involve an individual’s health.
In addition, administering medications takes time. In fact, some nurses spend up to a third of their day at work handling tasks associated with medication administration. The latest innovations in information technology systems are working to change that, so nurses have more time to spend with their patients.
Many healthcare organizations today use automated dispensing cabinets. In fact, over 90 percent of American hospitals today use them with great success. To learn more about this technology, check out this dispensing cabinet.
Improving Safety and Efficiency
An automatic dispensing cabinet comes with a lock to limit access to medications. The nurse completes an authentication process before the contents of the cabinet can be accessed, and this process might involve entering a password or completing a fingerprint scan. The nurse then chooses a patient and the machine dispenses the appropriate medication. When doing so, it limits access to other medications not needed by that patient.
This increases the security of medications and controlled substances. Unauthorized users cannot get the medication, as they lack the necessary credentials. In addition, the pharmacy controls the inventory in the cabinet with the help of the cabinet’s software. For additional security, a healthcare practice can choose features to increase security for controlled substances. If any discrepancy is detected when a medication is dispensed, it is automatically tracked with the help of a notification system. In fact, every step of the process is tracked and traced.
Healthcare organizations benefit from the use of automatic dispensing cabinets. With the help of system information collected through the automatic dispensing cabinets, they gain insight into user interactions with these cabinets. In addition, the cabinet supports medication security and storage.
However, every employee who will use the cabinet must undergo training on how to use the machine and why it is necessary. For instance, a nurse must know they cannot pull medications at the beginning of a shift, as a doctor may change prescription orders after seeing a patient. If the medication has already been pulled, the nurse may not notice the change and make the appropriate modifications.
Features to Consider
When purchasing an automatic dispensing cabinet, the healthcare organization must determine which features are essential. For example, one healthcare practice may wish to have a unit that allows for configurable patient profiles. Another organization might feel it will benefit most from the ability to search for medication. An additional feature to consider would be remote queuing. Each organization has unique needs, which is why a one-size-fits-all cabinet isn’t appropriate for all.
Choosing a Cabinet
Learn which medication and supply packaging types the cabinet will accommodate. Select a cabinet that features controlled access modules to prevent unauthorized access to controlled substances, and choose a unit with features such as a touchscreen module or an integrated barcode scanner. Consider security features, as prescription information for any patient must be safeguarded. Some cabinets come with added safety features and they should be evaluated during the decision-making process.
The purchase of an automatic dispensing cabinet increases nursing staff efficiency while minimizing the time spent on this vital task. In addition, these cabinets reduce human errors, which improves patient safety. As nurses spend less time dispensing and verifying medications, they have more interactions with patients. This leads to a higher quality of care. In addition, patients, nurses, and pharmacy staff find their satisfaction increases when this type of cabinet is used.