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Automated Compounding Center to Reduce Chance of Pharmacy Error

David W. Hodges
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Partner at Kennedy Hodges LLP practicing pharmacy error, medical malpractice and personal injury law
Posted on Nov 07, 2013

According to the University of Rochester Medical Center’s pharmacy (URMC), they have plans for five robots to do the work that human pharmacists now do. This plan to automate its compounding pharmacy operation would hopefully reduce the chance of human pharmacy error in preparing medications. Also, removing humans from the prepared medications will basically eliminate any chance of contamination.

By automating the compounding pharmacy operation, the robots would prepare saline, antibiotics, and other solutions for intravenous (IV) delivery. Amazingly, robots will be able to tell if a compound has been formulated incorrectly—something human pharmacists cannot do free of error.

When the robots identify that each step is completed correctly, the software will allow the pharmacist to move onto the next step. Not all IVs will be prepared by the robots, but the software by Health Robotics will enforce the same series of checks on the human pharmacists, thus helping to eliminate pharmacy errors.

The plan is for Health Robotics to install the five robots, so that they would go online in January 2014. According to Health Robotics—an Italian-based company that supplies robot systems to hospitals globally—the automated operation at URMC could be the largest installation of its type that the company has installed. However, Health Robotics has completed similar installations with four-robot systems at several other hospitals.

Each robot will cost approximately $1.8 million, but additional costs will be incurred due to software and licensing fees. Although the robots are expensive, there is belief that the robots will increase production safety—saving the company money over time.

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