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January 19, 2021

Why Implementing a Robust IV Workflow System Is Key to Patient Safety

Stephanie Gallagher, PharmD, MBA
Senior Clinical Product Marketing Manager, Omnicell

Despite the reality that intravenous (IV) compounding is among the highest risk areas in the continuum of acute care when it comes to the potential for possible patient harm, IV systems are often the last to be impacted by advances in pharmacy automation. The multiple high-profile cases of errors and suboptimal events in IV outsourced compounding facilities, medical centers, and health system pharmacy departments highlight the need for modern automated solutions to avoid such failure. 

This case for automation is supported by root cause analysis (RCA) and failure modes and effects analysis (FMEA) efforts regarding sterile compounding. There is a growing demand for solutions with safety checks and forced functions. 

In fact, the  Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP) has published several guidelines and recommendations on sterile compounding, including findings that — without a doubt — manual inspection of sterile compounds by pharmacists or technicians is not a sufficiently effective method for preventing errors.  

A recent  THRIV initiative highlights the technology components needed to improve safety in IV compounding, including bar code verification, volumetric/visual confirmation (digital image or video), and gravimetric analysis. And the previously mentioned ISMP report concludes that hospital leaders must support the implementation of automation.  

The good news is that modern IV robotics and workflow systems support patient safety in sterile-compounded products. 

IV workflow automation technology was implemented at the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) in order to improve the quality of the sterile compounding process. The plan was to leverage automated robotic production along with a semi-automated iv workflow management system to integrate the same critical safety checks for items that cannot be produced in the robots.  

URMC’s near-term goal was to produce 80 percent of patient-specific doses via the  IVX Workflow solution; the long-term goal is to produce all sterile doses via robotics or the IV workflow system, regardless of the type of product or location of the patient — this is consistent with ISMP and THRIV recommendations.  

More hospitals like URMC realize that — when it comes to patient safety — accuracy in compounding is of the utmost importance. Automating IV workflow delivers patient safety through robust design, while offering a potentially strong return on investment. When implementing these systems, it is essential to select a vendor that can accommodate the facility’s unique needs so that patients can expect a higher level of safety from the highest risk process in the pharmacy. Learn more about URMC’s experience and in-depth findings in this case study  Implementing a Robust IV Workflow System


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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