NYU Langone pharmacy goes robotic for medication admin

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New York University (NYU) Langone Medical Center has created a pharmacy featuring robotic equipment that sorts and dispenses medications.

Robotic pharmacy automation tools assist hospital pharmacy operations by combining inventory management software, packaging, storage and retrieval to optimize medication therapies, the New York City-based medical center stated.

According to NYU Langone, medication orders that previously took 2.5 hours to prepare can be completed in less than 30 minutes. Using the technology, drugs are delivered and stockpiled in an automated storeroom. From there, a computer orders batches of medications as needed, scans bar codes on individual pill bottles and vials.

The medications are then packaged and automatically transferred to a “drug nest,” which stores more than 54,000 doses of medication.

When a prescriber submits an order electronically, it is vetted by a pharmacist for contraindications and potentially adverse drug interactions, NYU Langone stated. Once approved, the medication is automatically loaded from the drug nest into bar-coded plastic envelopes suspended from oversized rings. Each ring, called a PickRing, contains all the dosages a patient will need during the next 24 hours. The PickRings are then transported by cart, courier or a pneumatic tube system to units throughout the hospital.

Medications not stored in the system will automatically be added to the patient’s medication bin. Before administering the drug, a nurse checks the envelope to ensure that the patient is getting exactly what the prescriber ordered. Medications returned from the patient floors can be restocked.

While the vast majority of medications will be handled robotically, investigational drugs and IV solutions will still be prepared and dispensed by hand while controlled substances are stored separately in a security vault, the center added.