Avera Medical Minute AMcK: Automating the pharmacy with MedSafe - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

Avera Medical Minute AMcK: Automating the pharmacy with MedSafe

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When you're at the hospital, medications are the cure to what ails you. But with the wrong dose or wrong pill, things might only get worse. So how does the hospital safeguard it's prescriptions?

On any given day more than 20,000 medications will be given to patients at Avera McKennan. That's a lot of little pills to keep track of. So Avera Health developed MedSafe, a system-wide program to ensure that every medication is verified before it's given.

"Right patient, right dose, right time, right route, and right med. So if you're always conscious of those five rights that's one way to safeguard, well this really puts another step in there." Said Judy Blauwet, the Chief Nursing Officer and Sr. Vice President of Hospital Operations at Avera McKennan.

That extra step is a computer double and sometimes triple check. Everything is scanned and I mean everything. It all starts in the hospital's renovated and state of the art pharmacy. Every medication is unit dosed, bar-coded, and stored in revolving carousels. Meaning, before anything leaves the floor it will have been scanned several times.

"There's multiple points where we try to scan that medication label or we scan labels associated with the medication. But ultimately it's about making sure that things move through the process in the correct way and then we can track movement of medication through the building and throughout our pharmacy." Said Tom Johnson, the Director of Pharmacy at Avera McKennan. 

Just like every med has a bar-code, every patient has an armband. A quick scan ensures the right drugs go to the right people. Even though it's a new system patients are onboard.

"When we tell them what we're doing and why we're doing it, the armband is what you scan and they hold up their hand so they help us quite frankly because they know now that's the expectation so they're really part of the process." Said Blauwet.

Studies show that nearly all medical errors are made at the point of administration. The MedSafe program, with all the scans removes human error because if things don't match up, the computer won't let you proceed.

"All the double checks are there but the technology does it instead of having people do that, and people make errors and that's one of the things that were trying remove from the system is let the technology move things along and track what we're doing so people can then do other things that really need to happen." Said Johnson.

With the computer integration, the program keeps an up-to-the-second pharmacy inventory and by limiting errors it's actually driving down the cost of healthcare.

"This is really becoming the standard of care across the country it's part of meaningful use which is a part of a government program to drive this technology in healthcare." Said Johnson.

The Avera McKennan staff has completely bought in. The hospital currently boasts a 96% percent scan rate and the other 4% is bound to be made up, once all the outpatient programs have scanners in place.

To err is human, but MedSafe is simply making hospital care for patients, the best it can possibly be.

"No staff person ever wants to make an error, never! So to have that extra layer of protection or safety for the patient and the staff it really is a win-win and staff so appreciate it as well." Said Blauwet.

Though this story features Avera McKennan, MedSafe is a system-wide initiative and has been implemented across the Avera system with the central pharmacy offering technical and operational support. For more information about the MedSafe program just call 877-AT-AVERA.

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