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Robot could avoid a patient receiving the wrong dosage of a drug

Connecticut residents may not know that a hospital in a nearby state has become the second to receive a new tool designed to reduce medication errors. The robot could avoid a patient receiving the wrong dosage of a drug or the wrong medication. This new technology does not even require a pharmacist to be on site since the machine can be operated remotely.

Even though orders have to be input by the pharmacist, the robot fills the orders. Medications are given barcodes as a safety precaution to prevent medication mix-ups. Not only does it dispense the medication, but also double checks each order before it is sent to a patient. The machine also monitors expiration dates of medications.

Human error is often cited as the biggest reason why patients receive the wrong medication, but statistics regarding how often this occurs are elusive. With a machine such as this, data may be gathered that could shed some light on how medication errors occur. Things that can be tracked are similarly named medications, pills that look alike and how often the potential exists for errors.

At this time, two New York hospitals have the medication-dispensing robots. When their usefulness has been thoroughly vetted, more hospitals around the country and in Connecticut may decide the $1.5 million price tag is worth it. Even so, neither man nor machine is without the potential for error. If the robot can track errors, it could also make them. When the worst happens because a patient receives the wrong dosage of a drug or the wrong drug altogether, that patient -- or the patient's family in the case of death -- may file a civil action seeking financial relief for any permanent injury or death associated with the medication error.

Source: timesledger.com, NYHQ welcomes robot to sort medication for hospital's patients, Alex Robinson, Dec. 27, 2013

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