Robot lightens pharmacists' workload

Photo Credit: NYU
Filling individual drug requests at NYU Langone Medical Center's Tisch Hospital just got a lot easier and safer. It used to take as much as 2.5 hours. Now a drug-sorting and dispensing robot at the 705-bed tertiary hospital's new pharmacy automatically zips through the process in less than 30 minutes. The robot is 99.99 percent accurate, according to an NYU press release.

"Robotics is revolutionizing the way prescriptions are dispensed and delivered in the hospital setting and allows our pharmacists to spend more time interacting with the care team and patients and promoting more effective use of pharmaceuticals," Dr. Robert I. Grossman, who is dean and CEO of NYU Langone Medical Center, said in a statement.

The pharmacy robot frees up pharmacists to be more directly involved in patient care. At NYU Langone, they join medical rounding teams, work directly on patient units to ensure the safe use of medications and advise patients on how to take their meds even after they've been discharged.

Here's how the robot works: Drugs are stockpiled in an automated storeroom. When needed, a computer orders batches of drugs, scans bar codes on individual pill bottles, vials and ampoules. Then the meds are packaged and automatically transferred to a "drug nest," which stores more than 54,000 drug doses.

After a prescriber submits an electronic order, a pharmacist vets it for contradictions and potential adverse drug interactions. Upon approval, the medication is automatically loaded from the drug nest into bar-coded plastic envelopes hanging from large rings. Each ring contains all the dosages a specific patient will need over the next 24 hours.

The rings are send via cart, courier, or pneumatic tube to units in the hospital. And meds returned from patient units are automatically restocked, to cut administrative and medication costs.

To learn more:
- read the NYU Langone Medical Center press release
- here's an article from Robotics Wire

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