Amid the hustle and bustle at a hospital pharmacy, medicine can sometimes be picked, labelled or packed wrongly.
But a new automated system at Singapore General Hospital’s (SGH) outpatient pharmacy has reduced significantly such “near misses”, said Ms Lee Soo Boon, assistant director of SGH’s pharmacy department. The reason lies in a conveyor belt system that taps on radio frequency identification (RFID) technology, which can locate the drug, record the dosage and identify who it is for when the barcode on the prescription sheet is scanned into a computer.
The system will also pack and place the drugs in baskets with the RFID chips and deliver them on conveyor belts to the front counter, where they are checked and handed to the patient.
The new system makes use of small baskets, each embedded with an RFID chip. Scanning the barcode on the prescription sheet into the computer activates the system to locate the drugs in the pharmacy. Some are kept in a huge machine, so these are retrieved by a robotic arm. Others are stored in small containers on shelves. LED lights above each container blink to guide staff to where the drug is.
The drugs are placed in the baskets, which are delivered to the front counter on conveyor belts. Several baskets may be used for one patient – for example, if he needs a few different drugs. But confusion is kept to a minimum because the RFID code of every basket will be tagged to the patient’s name in the computer.
We are proud to have been chosen as a partner in supplying the basket for SGH discharge pharmacy.
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