One step closer to reducing adverse medication events (Part 1)

Jun 23, 2016 | News

They look like a futuristic cross between an ATM and a snack vending machine. And they’re the first visible sign of a profound transformation in the way our hospitals store and dispense medications – while helping to reduce adverse medication events.

“Omnicell automated dispensing cabinets support a safer drug distribution system that benefits both patients and health care providers,” says Michele Babich, Executive Director, Lower Mainland Pharmacy Services.

Omnicell is a crucial foundation for the Clinical and Systems Transformation (CST) project. Up to 24,000 acute care patients die every year because of preventable adverse events, and about half of those are related to medication.

After years of planning, renovations and preparation, the Omnicell implementation kicked off this spring. Pharmacy and nursing teams at hospitals across VCH, PHSA and PHC have been rolling out over 150 shiny new Omnicell cabinets at Lower Mainland hospitals, including Lions Gate, St. Paul’s, Mount Saint Joseph, Holy Family, Parkview at Youville, Alder at Langara, Forensic Psychiatric, and BC Children’s and Women’s.

Omnicells will be implemented at more sites, like Squamish General Hospital, Whistler Health Care Centre and Pemberton Health Centre, in the fall and New Year.

Scott McCaughran, a Medicine Nurse at St. Paul’s Hospital, sees the benefit of Omnicell use in reducing medication administration errors. “It supports patient advocacy and the goal of increasing care quality and safety,” he says. That makes them an integral component of closed loop medication management, where all the steps of the medication cycle – ordering, verifying, preparing and administering – will be supported electronically, once the cabinets are connected to the new clinical information system that will be implemented as part of CST.

Medications are very secure, and the cabinets promote patient safety: in inpatient areas, only those medications for which a verified medication order exists will be available for removal – with a few exceptions for emergencies.

“As for how amazing the Omnicells are, from a nursing perspective, I think that the implementation of these units has added to workflow efficiency by reducing other somewhat redundant processes, such as conducting inventory counts at every shift handover, physically documenting in a hard copy narcotic register and carrying a narcotic key (or finding another nurse with one!),” says Scott. “I particularly like the biometric fingerprint scanner for access and find the interface user friendly.”

Quality & Safety

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