Automated medication system reduces errors

An automated hospital system that tracked medication administration reduced medication errors by more than half, according to a study published in the European Journal of Hospital Pharmacy.

Researchers, led by Bettina Wulf Risør of the University of Southern Denmark, introduced an automated medication system (AMS) at a Danish hospital's hematology ward. Pharmacy staff checked the AMS, which automatically dispensed pre-packed medication for each patient and also featured barcodes for bedside verification.

Using the AMS over a three-week period and tracking nearly 700 doses, the ward saw medication administration errors drop to 0.17 per dose, a 0.18 decline. Risk of error fell 57 percent between the ward where the AMS was used and a control ward where none was used.

"The automated medication system reduced the error rate of the medication administration process and thus improved patient safety in the medication process," the researchers wrote.

Medication errors are major barrier to patient safety throughout the healthcare industry; an October study found they occur in half of surgical procedures, and 1 in 3 of the errors cause harm while the rest could potentially lead to adverse events, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

As outcomes and the provider-patient relationship become increasingly important in healthcare, pharmacists are increasingly taking a larger role within healthcare in hopes of reducing such errors. The presence of pharmacists in healthcare also improves medication reconciliation, helps identify drug-related problems early and lowers healthcare costs due to readmissions prevented by fewer medication errors.

To learn more:
- read the study abstract