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What are automatic dispensing cabinets?
Automated dispensing cabinets are computerized drug storage cabinets, primarily located in nursing units, that make medications capable for storage and dispensing at the point-of-care. Automated dispensing cabinets have many different names: unit-based cabinets, automated dispensing devices, automated distribution cabinets, and automated dispensing machines. Prior to automated dispensing cabinets, medications were filled manually in patient specific cassettes, typically holding a 24-hour supply. The medication carts were then loaded manually everyday by a pharmacy technician. Some health systems still use this process and it is tedious and inefficient. Automated dispensing cabinets, on the other hand, provide a streamlined, efficient, secure, and accountable system for storing and dispensing medications in a health system requiring decentralized medication storage. ADC's have contributed to increased patient safety, better inventory management, and decreased drug diversion. They are the primary drug delivery system in health systems, providing the pharmacist, pharmacy technician, and nurse, with a streamlined workflow and safer standards of practice.
How do automated dispensing cabinets improve patient safety?
*Pharmacist can review orders at a remote location prior to medication dispensing from the automated dispensing cabinet
*Decrease medication errors
*Decrease drug diversion
*Improve tracking of medications
*Provide drug safety alerts
*Provide ease of Rx refills, if integrated with automatic refill software
*Some ADCs link to telepharmacy outsourcing stations (allowing for 24-hour review of medication orders prior to dispensing)
How do these help nurses / pharmacists?
Automated dispensing cabinets streamline workflow for the nurse and pharmacist. Since medications are able to be stored in nursing units, the nurse's access to medication and time spent accessing them, becomes more efficient. Pharmacy staff time management becomes more efficient, as well. The technology provides easier, efficient medication billing and inventory management. Most importantly, automated dispensing cabinets provide an additional security check, reducing medication errors and increasing patient safety.
*Medications are filled/refilled in the automated dispensing cabinet regularly
*Nurse begins shift, checks the patient profile, and sees a medication is ready to be dispensed to a patient
*Nurse Prints the eMAR
*Nurse walks to the automated dispensing cabinet and removes the medication from the cabinet in the nursing unit
*Nurse administers the medication to the patient at the bedside
*Nurse documents in the eMAR that the medication was given to the patient
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