Humans Are Prone to Errors: Are Medication Management Systems the Answer?


There’s no denying that human beings are prone to making errors. In a health care or pharmacy context, that undeniable tendency can create a major risk to patients and hospitals. The good news is that modern technology has provided a range of potential solutions for reducing human error, including automated medication management systems.

What Is Automated Medication Management?

Automated medication management involves purchasing a range of new technological solutions to aid human pharmacists in compounding, retrieving, and dispensing medications. Common types of automated medication management systems include:

  • Automated Dispensing Cabinets
  • Tabletop tablet counters
  • Automated compounding systems
  • Automated medication storage and retrieval systems
  • Automated pharmaceutical packaging and labeling systems

All of these component parts can combine to create a medication management system that is far less prone to human error. While doctors can still mis-prescribe medications, pharmacists won’t have to worry about filling the wrong medications and nurses won’t ever administer drugs that look similar but aren’t the right medications.

Pharmacy Automation Helps to Reduce Medication Errors

According to researchers, around 65% of nurses have made medication errors at some point in their careers, and nurses are just one of the categories of hospital staff capable of making preventable medication errors. Doctors and pharmacists are just as likely to make prescribing or dispensing mistakes as nurses are to use the wrong dosage or infusion rate.

Medication errors are more common than most patients would like to think. The FDA receives over 100,000 reports associated with medication errors each year, and researchers estimate that over seven million US patients are impacted. Automating as many parts of the medication management process as possible can significantly reduce human error in prescribing, dispensing, and administering medications.

The Human Aspect of Medication Management

While pharmacy automation systems play an integral role in reducing errors in medication management, they can’t run themselves. Human doctors, pharmacists, and nurses still play a role in prescribing, obtaining, and dispensing patients’ medications, and while automated systems don’t make mistakes, the people using them can.

The fact that human error can’t be removed from the equation completely is what makes medication management systems so necessary. In addition to automating as many aspects of medication management as possible, hospitals also need to establish and enforce strict protocols to ensure all of the people responsible for providing medication-related patient care are held to high standards.

The Importance of Staff Training

As more pharmacies make the switch to automated medication management, staff members will need to learn new skills and facilities will have to develop new protocols. Even the most advanced software system won’t do a hospital pharmacy any good if the pharmacy workers don’t know how to use it properly, and medication alert systems are only valuable if nurses know not to override them.

There’s a simple solution to these problems, and it’s embedded in the concept of medication management, itself. Medication management systems aren’t just about the advanced tools used to automate the filling of prescriptions, they’re also about teaching hospital workers how to use those systems effectively.

Find a Reputable Pharmacy Automation Partner

Want to find out more about the automated medication management systems available to today’s hospitals, clinics, and pharmacies? There are plenty of options available, but hospital administrators should make sure they’re purchasing medication carts, dispensing cabinets, and other automated systems from reputable manufacturers that specialize in working with healthcare industry clients.

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