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Robots are increasingly being used to dispense medications in order to prevent errors. The robot used at Evergreen Hospital Medical Centre is believed to handle 93% of dispensations and the hospitals medication error reports have decreased by 25%. However, machine errors can occur if the wrong data is entered - for example if the wrong barcode is printed onto a drug. Thus, the future will probably bring the requirement of bar-coding becoming a national safety issue. Pharmacists make errors frequently because of similar drug names - eg hydroxyzine and hydralazine, Zyrtec and Zantac and loperamide and loratadine. Same size and color medications can also lead to pharmacist errors. The hospital refused to reveal it's medication error figures - presumeably some errors were made where the wrong information was given to the robot. Some experts claim that the robot actually prevents the possible discovery of errors. Generally, there are many points at which a medication error can be discovered from the time it is prescribed to the doctor to the time the patient consumes it. Medication error is believed to be the fourth highest medical error.
Source: summary of medical news story as reported by King County Journal
About: Robot fights medication errors
Date: 10 January 2005
Source: King County Journal
Author: Jeff Switzer
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