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Home » Optimizing the Use of Dispensing Cabinets: 10 Key Points to Remember

Optimizing the Use of Dispensing Cabinets: 10 Key Points to Remember

While every healthcare facility follows a slightly different set of operating procedures, all of them rely on dispensing cabinets. These vital pieces of equipment are easy to operate and proven to improve both patient outcomes and efficiency. Just make sure that all healthcare providers know to keep the following 10 key points in mind while using medication dispensing cabinets.

1. Review All Medication Orders

Modern, automated medication dispensing systems for hospitals have increased efficiency and improved productivity, but that doesn’t mean users can cut corners. All medication orders obtained through automated dispensing cabinets should still be reviewed by a pharmacist before administration.

2. Secure High-Risk Medications

When used properly, automated dispensing cabinets can improve not just efficiency and patient outcomes but also drug diversion rates. In this case, proper use involves securing high-risk medications and requiring a witness to override access controls.

3. Restrict Access to High-Risk Medications

Just securing high-risk medications more effectively by requiring a witness to override dispensing protocols won’t eliminate every instance of drug diversion. Pharmacists should also make a point of placing high-risk drugs in single-product drawers and requiring that those drugs be dispensed one dose at a time. Never place high-risk medications in multiple-product drawers.

4. Be Careful With Look-Alike Products

Restocking errors such as accidentally placing look-alike products in the same drawer can increase the risk of potentially dangerous medication errors. They should never be placed in the same multi-use compartments.

5. Don’t Overstock

Overstocking medications can increase the risk of patient overdoses. It’s better to limit the quantities of all the medications and plan to restock the dispensing cabinet more frequently.

6. Double-Check Medications

All medications stocked in dispensing cabinets should be double-checked before the cabinets are returned to the rotation. The best way to ensure that the medications have been stocked correctly is to use barcode verification. Even with barcode verification, multiple parties should still check to make sure the medications are being stored and administered correctly.

7. Establish Employee Protocols for Unused Medications

It’s important that unused doses of medications get returned to the pharmacy. All employees with access to dispensing cabinets should be expected to place unused medications in locked return bins, which can then be safely brought back to the pharmacy without increasing the risk of unauthorized access.

8. Administer Medications Promptly

Nurses should only retrieve one patient’s medications from a cabinet at a time. After retrieving the medications, they should be administered promptly.

9. Provide Staff Training

All staff members should be fully trained in how to use automated dispensing cabinets safely and effectively. Training sessions should include best practices, information about potential negative outcomes of unsafe practices, and an insistence on the importance of reporting issues with look-alike drugs, selection screen errors, overstocking, and other serious problems.

10. Upgrade Dispensing Cabinets As Needed

Technology changes fast in the healthcare sector, and automated dispensing cabinets are no exception. Hospitals and other healthcare facilities can benefit from upgrading their equipment frequently to ensure that they’re taking advantage of all available safeguards and improvements.

Make the Switch to Automated Cabinets

Still, working with manual dispensing cabinets? It’s time to make the switch to a safer, more efficient alternative. There are plenty of automated dispensing cabinets available, so purchasing managers should have no problem finding models that will meet their facilities’ needs. Just make sure to buy equipment from a reputable vendor that specializes in selling medical equipment and supplies.

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