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July 08, 2021

Strategies for Preventing Hospital Drug Diversion

Terri Albarano, MS, PharmD
Director, Autonomous Pharmacy Advisory Board

When patients are admitted to the hospital, they are typically focused on receiving the best care. Pharmacy operations and efficiency, most likely, are not top of mind.

But pharmacies and the behind-the-scenes technology that underpin their work are a critical component of a patient’s care, especially when it comes to safety. Unfortunately, problems with medication selection, under- or overdosing medications, unforeseen drug interactions, human error and insufficient monitoring are just some of the challenges hospitals contend with regularly. And while no one in the healthcare system wants to harm another person with a medication, it happens all the time.

A path to zero preventable medication errors does exist, however, and completing the path depends on health systems adopting connected medication management technology.

Omnicell is partnering with the Autonomous Pharmacy Advisory Board to transform the pharmacy care model through technology-enabled solutions and delivering expert services, supporting the journey to “zero error” through the Autonomous Pharmacy.

By connecting medication inventory across the entire healthcare infrastructure and leveraging the data pulled from that technology, there is a huge opportunity to reduce instances of human error, improve efficiency, control costs, ensure compliance and, ultimately, enhance patient care and safety.

Currently, processes such as manually entering data again and again into multiple, disparate systems are not only time-consuming, but keep pharmacy staff from the clinical activities that positively impact patient outcomes.

For example, an Advisory Board member from Massachusetts General Hospital recognized that lengthy, often repetitive, manual processes common in pharmacies are not ideal for hospitals, pharmacists or patients. Much like what the airlines have done over the past several decades – use technology to improve safety – Mass General identified opportunities to incorporate technology into their medication management process to make patients safer.

One key area was in sterile compounding of IVs – a big risk area – in which a dosing error could have serious consequences. In the typical hospital pharmacy, IVs are manually prepared by pharmacy technicians and then manually checked by pharmacists. Human error can occur with manual processes given the large number of doses prepared. Today, Mass General is leveraging technology to improve efficiency and increase safety for IV admixtures. Equally as important, it has allowed pharmacy staff to spend more time where their expertise will prove most valuable: on the front line of patient care.

Chris Fortier of Massachusetts General Hospital and Allen Flynn of the University of Michigan recently shared their thoughts on how Autonomous Pharmacy is helping hospitals and health systems to improve patient safety. Read this APNews.com article to learn more.


The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other agency, organization, employer or company. Assumptions made in the analysis are not reflective of the position of any entity other than the author(s). These views are always subject to change, revision, and rethinking at any time and may not be held in perpetuity.

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