Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Pharmacy Innovations at University of Maryland Medical Center

Innovation: Using RFID Technology to Enhance Safety

Potential for human error, high demand and limited time for creating and dispensing crash-cart trays [medicines used and rushed to rooms during emergencies] led pharmacists and technicians in the Central Pharmacy to come together and implement Kit Check, radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology.

Trays and medications have RFID tags, similar to the theft-prevention tags on books at bookstores. Kit Check can scan the tags to ensure all emergency medications in crash-cart trays are there and that none are expired. Central Pharmacy manager Adrienne Shepardson, PharmD, says she and technicians were eager to get the system set up and were quick to tag all of the medications and trays.

"We have 500 trays and a lot of critically ill patients," says Shepardson, denoting the importance of delivering lifesaving medications quickly and accurately. Where it once took 40 minutes and two technicians to check trays, it now takes about five minutes for one technician to check.

Kit Check is especially beneficial for technicians, as they are primarily responsible for creating the trays and are the last to check them before they are delivered to the proper unit.

"It's much easier now with not many mistakes. Before, two people had to check the tray manually, but now I just finished checking one in about two minutes," says Rashad Mousa, pharmacy associate. Aside from checking trays, central pharmacy technicians are responsible for making suspensions that are not commercially available and creating unit-dose packaging.

The pharmacist's main function in utilizing the new technology is to authorize and tag the medications they want the new system to identify.

An increase in speed and productivity and a decrease in error make the Central Pharmacy more efficient.

"Now I can sleep better at night," says Shepardson.