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Automated Dispensing Cabinets (ADCs) for Accurate Medication Storage and Dispensing


2022-05-26 11:49:08

In the hospital or other clinical settings, nurses and pharmacists collaborate to ensure accuracy, safety, and timeliness in the medication dispensing and administration process. Ensuring the "five rights" of medication use: the right patient, the right drug, the right time, the right dose, and the right route, is of the utmost importance to improve the quality of patient care and reduce the risk of medication errors. However, do you feel overwhelmed by the burden of manually recording the details of medications for each patient? Or worried about the possibility of missing out on medication? An automated dispensing cabinet could give you greater peace of mind and even more...

What are Automated Dispensing Cabinets (ADCs)?

An automated dispensing cabinet (ADC) is a computerized cabinet for storing and dispensing medications and supplies at points of care such as wards, OR, ICU, and ER, with sophisticated software on the back-end that handles patient orders, and medication dosing documentation, inventory management, and billing transactions. Most healthcare facilities now use the decentralized medication distribution approach, in which medications are centrally managed but physically distributed to different points of care within the hospital. In this approach, ADCs act as a decentralized warehouse to keep medications in stock, ready to be dispensed to patients by the nurses as soon as a doctor orders the treatment plan.

In this scenario, multiple ADCs - main and auxiliary - are typically required to house all the medications needed for a hospital. M3000i-M automated dispensing cabinets are a combination of a main and an auxiliary cabinet. The main cabinet has a screen where staff can log into the system and manage the inventory of medications. The auxiliary cabinet provides larger storage space for medications and supplies. Drawers and shelves with different access controls secure different drug forms such as syringes, vials, ampules, blisters, etc. Customized configurations of ADCs can be designed to meet the specific needs of a healthcare facility.

Workflow with ADCs

With the implementation of ADCs, a physician enters a patient's order in the EMR (Electronic Medical Record) system. The system then automatically routes the order to a server that manages communication to all of the cabinets. With patients' information and locations acquired from the hospital's information system, the server sends the order to the correct ADC on the nursing floor.

Nurses log into the ADC and select the patient for whom medication is to be dispensed. They simply select the medication specific to the selected patient from the list that is displayed on the screen. Guidance lights illuminate the exact location of the medication to be dispensed, which helps minimize dispensing errors.

To ensure pharmacist review of medications prior to administration, all ADCs for inpatients are profiled. While our preference is that all medications undergo a pharmacist review, we understand that there are urgent situations that require immediate medication access. Our override strategy is consistent with guidance from the Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP), with condition-based needs—such as pain, anaphylaxis, and acute exacerbation of asthma—used to generate the override list. While in urgent situations, nurses are able to access all medications within the ADCs by searching their names. The senior pharmacy management team is responsible for reviewing new override and cabinet stocking requests.

Benefits of Modern ADCs

Since their introduction in the 1980s, ADCs have revolutionized how the nursing staff administers medication in many North American hospitals. ADC use has become widespread in health institutions, with 93% of hospitals using ADCs in their medication use systems, and 70.2% using ADCs as a primary method of maintenance dose distribution. (ASHP Guidelines on the Safe Use of Automated Dispensing Cabinets) Some of the benefits that have emerged are:

(1) Increased charge capture  

(2) Lower inventory costs 

(3) Reduction of stock-outs 

(4) Increased patient safety and satisfaction

(5) Increased operational efficiency for staff

Modern ADCs with state-of-the-art features such as the ones supplied by NuboMed offer several advantages over the previous generation equipment. If you are looking to modernize your healthcare facility, contact us by clicking here to schedule a free demonstration. Our technicians are available 24/7 to answer any questions you might have.

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