4 technologies every hospital pharmacy should be using right now

There are lots of useful technologies out there for pharmacies, but I see precious few being put to good use. Why? Oh, who the heck knows. It’s a mystery to me. People whine all the time about how bad pharmacy operations are, but they never do anything to fix it. Human nature I suppose. If I were a DOP or CPO I’d be using anything and everything I could get my hands on to improve operations and make life easier for my pharmacists, and in turn easier for “pharmacy” and nursing, which in theory leads to better patient care. It’s the great circle of life. Sort of.

Here are four things I think every hospital pharmacy should be using, in no particular order:

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IV room technology …just sayin’

From a recent article in August 2012 issue of Pharmacy Practice News:

Within the first month of implementation [of a bar-code medication preparation (BCMP) system], 85% of all IV drugs in the children’s hospital IV room were covered by the BCMP system, which does the following: “prints” labels to a touchscreen computer from which a technician can pick which dose he or she wants to prepare; verifies via bar-code technology that the correct medication and diluent were chosen, provides instructions to technicians about how make the preparation, allows technicians to take pictures of the preparation process and automatically time stamps each step in that process for future record keeping and management reporting.

The unique bar code that is assigned to each product then can be used to track the medication to the nursing unit, or whatever end location has been provided, with a location bar code.

Since the implementation of the BCMP IV system, which both Drs. Fortier and Maughan describe as a “best practice for the near future,” MUSC staff have seen “eight to 10 medications a day that could have been an error [with] the old system,” according to Dr. Maughan. “That represents 1.3% to 3% of the total number of doses dispensed.”

It’s no secret that I think the IV room is an area that pharmacy has yet to address properly when it comes to automation and technology. We simple haven’t developed a product that will change the way pharmacy compounds IV’s. I have some thoughts on that, but will keep them offline for now. If you’re interested in talking about the future of IV room practice feel free to drop me a line. Sorry, I digress.

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Timely webinar from Pharmacy OneSource: Maximizing the Use of Single-Dose Vials

I wrote about the change in CMS policy regarding single-dose vials a few weeks ago. It looks like I may not be the only one that’s interested in the topic. Pharmacy OneSource is offering a webinar on August 8 titled “Maximizing the Use of Single-Dose Vials“. The speaker is Eric Kastango. Eric is one of, if not the, foremost authorities on all things pharmacy cleanroom and USP <797>. He knows his stuff. I had the pleasure of hearing Eric speak at the ASHP Midyear in Anaheim in 2010.

There’s no cost to attend the webinar, so do yourself a favor if you have any interest in the topic and register. I was planning to attend, but have a scheduling conflict. I’ll have to grab the slides later.

You can register here.

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Color to differentiate information on pharmacy labels

I put this up the other day at my Talyst blog. I don’t often cross post between that blog and this one because I tend to keep the “corporate” blog a bit more watered down. But in this case I thought it was worth it. I’ve been thinking a lot about the use of color in pharmacy labels. I’m not sure why we don’t see more of it in pharmacy. It may have something to do with the limited number of suitable color printers and label stock. As prevalent as color printing is in the consumer world, you’d think it would be simple. Unfortunately it’s not.

I for one think color has a place in the pharmacy. It could be used to improve patient safety, and when used appropriately improve workflow and operations.

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CMS allows repackaging of single-dose vials “under certain circumstances”

Each Friday I receive a newsletter from CompoundingToday.com. The newsletter features an editorial from Dr. Loyd V. Allen, Jr, Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Pharmaceutical Compounding.

A couple of weeks ago the editorial focused on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) newly clarified position on the use of sing-dose vials in medication distribution. It’s a rather important piece of information that I haven’t seen elsewhere. You’d think hospitals would be jumping all over this as it not only saves waste, i.e. cost, but can help with the drug shortage issue as well. It’s hard to say why I haven’t heard more about it, but I haven’t. Go figure.

Anyway, Dr. Allen’s editorial is reproduced in its entirety below. The CMS document can be found here (PDF).

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Prenteral nutrition error [from #ISMP]

From the latest ISMP Medication Safety Alert!, a mix up between an adult parenteral nutrition (PN) template in an electronic health record (#EHR) and one for pediatrics.

The big difference between these two is how you order electrolytes; it’s a really big difference.

The most shocking part of all this was that the error made it’s way through the physician that ordered it, a pharmacist that “entered the PN order” (I’m assuming in the compounding application), the “trained technician” that prepared it – missing the fact that the bag contained a whooping 2600mL of sterile water, the pharmacist that checked it, and finally the nurse that hung it. Swiss cheese anyone?

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