Monday, 19 September 2011

Robots Take Over Hospital Pharmacy as Human Pill-Counting Talents Go To Waste


A new pharmacy supplying medicine to the UCSF Medical Center is currently under the control of a handful of Swiss and Canadian robots that won’t let the pharmacists handle the medications directly. Housed within a highly secure and sterile environment, the robots unashamedly dispense oral and injectible medications free from meddling humans and their contaminants. To date, they have prepared and processed more than 350,000 dosages without error rendering the pharmacy staff’s counting skills useless.





What has prevented full automation in the past is the high stakes of patient meds. A pharmacist’s job is clearly much more intellectually tasking than just bean counting, but medication management, including sorting and counting, has been one of the unmistakable signs of the pharmacy trade. While it makes for a nice picture to teach five-year-olds about people in their community, the unfortunate reality is that it is also a source of human error. Medication errors across the board are believed to cause over 7,000 deaths, injure millions, and cost $3.5 billion annually.



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