This machine is a computer-controlled storage unit for various medications. It is also known as a medication dispensing cabinet. Hospitals have been using them since the 1980s to manage patients’ medication.
Over the years, manufacturers continue to make improvements to suit the growing and changing requirements in the healthcare industry. A single medication dispensing machine can handle hundreds of various medications.
As was the intended purpose, this machine offers several benefits to nurses, caregivers, and patients. However, there are some disadvantages associated with it. Let’s look at both pros and cons in detail.
Pros of a Medication Dispensing Machine
1. Patient Safety
Tracking and Monitoring
This machine is able to track and monitor drug usage. Some drugs are high-risk and have restrictions on their use. In case a physician is using a particular restricted drug, the machine will report it. This allows pharmacists to monitor the appropriate use of the drug thus enhancing patient safety.
Easy Access to Medication
The availability of a medication dispensing machine in each patient unit improves patient safety. Patients in intensive care units and emergency rooms require quick treatment. Sometimes their doses change frequently or they require immediate medication for an emergency after pharmacy hours. Physicians are able to easily access the required medication for the patient.
Timely and Accurate Dosing
Doses that have already been administered are tracked in the patient’s profile on the machine. The machine interfaces with the pharmacy computer. Pharmacists are up-to-date in real-time about patients’ doses. This ensures timely doses and enhances patient safety.
2. Efficiency and Time Saving
Users do not have to send the medication from the pharmacy stores. The computer-generated software orders for it. This reduces pharmacists’ dispensing time and nurses’ workflow time. The software will also inform the pharmacist of any medication that conflicts with a patient’s allergies. It also removes the possibility of incorrectly reading the doctor’s handwritten prescriptions.
Cons of a Dispensing Machine
1. Dispensing Errors
This dispensing machine might be efficient in many ways but it does not eliminate all possible errors. It’s still possible for the pharmacy to stock the wrong medication. Physicians can pick a similar-looking drug from another drawer.
2. Prone to Breakdown
This machine is an electronic device. This means it can malfunction at any critical time. Healthcare facilities must be prepared for emergencies. They should have separate kits containing resuscitation and critical care drugs.
There’s no doubt that the medication dispensing machine has provided significant benefits to healthcare providers and patients. Through tracking drug use, easy access to medication inpatient units, and timely doses, health centers have improved patient safety with this machine.
However, errors can still happen and they can still malfunction. With manufacturers continuing to improve the technology, there’s hope that a more sophisticated and error-free device is on the way.