New Medical Dispenser Technology Successful at Reducing Medication ErrorsJuly 12, 2019 No Comments
Featured article by Sally Writes, Independent Technology Author
In the United States alone, between 7,000 and 9,000 people die every year because of errors in medication. Moreover, hundreds of thousands of additional patients have adverse reactions that they simply do not report – meaning that the number of people affected by medication errors is much higher. A 2019 study by R.A. Tariq et. al. found that the total expense associated with this type of error ascends to a whopping $40 billion annually. Of course, financial cost is only one issue. A second, arguably more important one, is that of the pain, discomfort, and psychological anguish that is caused by mistaken medication. The study authors warn that the effect on a patient’s trust in their doctor and their satisfaction with the healthcare system is seriously diminished when medication errors occur. One promising solution are medical dispensers, which are already saving lives in countries in which they are being tested.
What Causes Medication Errors and What are the Consequences?
Medication errors don’t only occur in hospitals. They can occur at various different points – including when they are being prescribed, documented, transcribed, dispensed, and administered. Within hospital or clinical settings, the number one cause of errors is distraction. As noted by Tarique et. al., physicians have various duties and in the midst of speaking to patients, dealing with families, talking to insurance carriers etc., they are often called upon to prescribe medications. Another big problem lies in the administration of the medicine. Issues such as forgetfulness, hurrying, and mere carelessness can have big consequences for patients and doctors (in terms of malpractice suits). Cerebral Palsy Lawyers note, for instance, that failing to treat an infection can cause a child to develop cerebral palsy – just one disease that is life-changing and expensive to treat.
Solutions for Doctors and Other Health Professionals
To reduce medication errors at the prescription stage, most hospitals now have protocols that include setting aside specific ‘quiet times’ during which doctors can write prescriptions with greater clarity and focus. The use of electronic records (to reduce problems associated with illegible writing), spelling out quantities clearly, and using metric measures are just a few solutions for doctors. For nurses, innovative medical dispensers are already proving to be majorly successful. In one recent trial, the PillTime method – which relies on robotic technology to dispense medication into clearly labelled, dose-specific pouches, has been found to save nurses 87 minutes per day. This technology makes medication rounds more efficient and results in enhanced administration, improving patient care, and a significantly lower level of stress for nurses.
PillTime Includes a Back-Up Check
With the PillTime dispenser method, after the pouches are emitted by the robots, an optical checker scans them to ensure the medication is correct – both in nature and dose. This enables both patients and nurses to rest assured, since few things are quite as stressful for health workers than knowing they have made a mistake in medication or care. PillTime was actually developed in 2016 but it has not been tested at this level until now.
Market Reports has noted that the medical dispenser market is set to grow significantly by 2028. This is in part owing to the ever-growing geriatric population and the greater need for efficiency in the administration of medications. The United States is predicted to be the largest shareholder of the medical dispenser market. Not only will companies focus on dispensers for hospitals, but also for pharmacies and mobile surgical centers. For individuals, meanwhile, ‘smart pill bottles’ can help by reminding users to take their medication at the right time and dosage.DIGITAL HEALTH