Technology use in the NHS to eliminate medication errors
“We welcome this report which highlights and raises awareness of the scale of medication errors across the NHS. It’s vitally important that the use of technology, which can solve this problem, is now an integral part of the debate in the light of this new research.
There is no excuse for poor medicines management within the NHS as technology exists which can prevent the errors which can arise from the prescribing, dispensing and the administration of drugs. These can be minimised or altogether eliminated with the use of technology ie. automation. Medicines optimisation, redesigning workflow structures and the use of technology are the cornerstones to promoting patient safety and driving much-needed cost efficiencies.
Automation also addresses the flow of patients through trusts, discharge times, the focus of nursing and pharmacy staff on clinical services and ultimately the quality of care. But crucially, it offers a ‘safety net’ for those healthcare teams who are at the brunt of NHS cuts and pressures and who are trying to care for their patients. Any efficiency in the system that means they can spend more time delivering face-to-face patient care will be welcomed.
Automation medicine cabinets gives the reassurance that the right medicine is available for the right patient at the point of care, aiding swift and safe discharge. The nurse logs in using a PIN code or fingerprint, picks the patient name from the display screen, picks the medicine required and is then guided by a flashing light to the correct drawer. The system records nurse, patient, product, time, date, cost, procedure, consultant and serial number.
Robotic dispensing systems in central pharmacies ensure the ongoing, seamless storage and safe dispensing of medication. Medication is sorted, stacked, stored and then picked by the RDS reducing the risk of picking errors. There is more time for face to face consultations with patients and checking as experienced staff no longer waste time on operational tasks like restocking and stock rotation – the machine does this for them
Our medication-based automation systems have also helped stretched A&E departments, GP surgeries, pharmacies and care homes cope with winter pressures.
Over the past 2 years Omnicell has been highlighting these issues via our automation and patient safety campaigns which also saw the launch of a white paper ‘SAFE: Safeguarding Against Frontline Errors’. This report was directed to NHS stakeholders and Trusts to help drive change and awareness of the scale of the problem. A copy of which can be found here: http://www.omnicell.co.uk/downloads/safe-white-paper.pdf.”