Robots at hospital pharmacy mean more accurate dosages
The new pharmacy at the University of California at San Francisco is believed to be the most automated hospital pharmacy in the country. Robots now track and prepare doses of pills, IV bags, and syringes. These medications, untainted by human contact, are more efficient and ensure far fewer errors. Experts predict that in the not-too-distant future, manual pharmacies will be but a relic of the past in major medical centers.
>> Sumi Das: When it comes to hospitals, this is going the way of the dinosaur, replaced by this -- a fully automated pharmacy. The project was spearheaded by Lynn Paulsen at the University of California in San Francisco.
>> Lynn Paulsen: We've been doing hospital pharmacy the same way for a long time, and every other industry has really moved forward into the technical age, and it was time for us to do that as well.
>> Sumi Das: The University of California in San Francisco spent eight months and fourteen million dollars to build what is believed to be the most technologically advanced hospital pharmacy in the country.
>> Lynn Paulsen: There are other hospital pharmacies that are automated. Most have some pieces of automation. What we've tried to do here is to say, how much can we automate?
>> Sumi Das: The doctor's orders come in electronically. Then , a family of giant robots counts and processes medication for the entire hospital. The robots pick, package and dispense the pills in a completely sterile environment. They string the medication each patient needs for a 12-hour period on a bar-coded ring and send it to the hospital. A nurse will scan the medication at the patient's bedside, making sure both the bar code on the medicine and on the patient's wrist match. Bob Waski is with Swisslog Healthcare Solutions, the maker of the equipment.
>> Bob Waski: Minimizing the human touches minimizes human errors in that it creates fewer adverse drug events. You get the right dose to the right patient at the right time.
>> Sumi Das: The automated pharmacy has already filled 350,000 prescriptions without making a single mistake. Humans would have made an average of 3,500 errors filling the same number. The automated pharmacy isn't just safer for patients; it's safer for employees, too. Besides filling prescriptions, it fills IV syringes and bags, some with compounds of toxic chemicals for chemotherapy.
>> Lynn Paulsen: If we can have a robot mix the solutions and expose the robot to the trace amounts of hazardous products, that's a huge improvement over having people have that exposure.
>> Sumi Das:; The price tag for improving patient and employee safety is 14 million dollars. There are cost savings, too, but they'll be recouped over time. Unused medications packaged in a sterile environment can be repackaged at different doses and concentrations, saving the hospital hundreds of thousands of dollars each year. For Smart Planet, I'm Sumi Das.
==== Transcribed by Automatic Sync Technologies ====