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Published on 19 October 2010

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Auto-pharmacist saves hospital cash


An automated pharmacy has helped to save money and improve safety, according to bosses at Forth Valley Royal Hospital.

The new robotic system, which cost £400,000 to buy and install, has saved £700,000 of the hospital’s pharmaceuticals bill, has freed up time for some staff and has reduced the number of dispensing mistakes.

Lead pharmacist Jann Davidson said: “We’ve been able to reduce our stock-holding quite considerably.

“It’s also reduced errors at the point of picking and dispensing and our staff are now able to work up beside the patients, checking their medicines as patients come into the hospital.”

A conveyor belt shifts the drugs to a barcode reader then three robots stack them onto shelves, in line with a method known only to the machines.

Ms Davison added: “The packs aren’t stored in an A-Z way. They’re just placed to make the best use of space, and the robot understands which packs are used the most and places them accordingly.”

Back-up generators are intended to fill in in the event of system failure, although any fault would have to be catastrophic to prevent all three robots from working.

Staff on the hospital wards now use iPad computers instead of the typical prescription pads, which communicate directly with the automated pharmacy to order and dispatch medicine.

Copyright Press Association 2010

Forth Valley Royal Hospital

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