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Medical Center Attempts to Eliminate Prescription Errors

In an effort to reduce future prescription errors, Berkshire Health Systems is spending $7 million in the next 18 months to provide patients with an automated medication dispensing system.

Berkshire Health will accompany Fairview Hospital as one of the five percent of hospitals that have made this costly, yet necessary, investment nationwide.

“BHS is making a major investment into a patient safety system that will help us manage medication safely. Our staff is very, very excited about this,” states Helen Downey, the chief operating officer at Berkshire Medical Center.

Prescription Errors: Common & Costly

Annually, about 1.5 million Americans are afflicted by prescription errors that are not only detrimental for health reasons, but are also costing more than $3 billion dollars to fix.

Some common errors include ignorance of patient’s allergies, a lack of up-to-date warnings on drugs, mislabeling, and confusion between drugs with similar names.

“Medicine today is a very complex business,” says Downey. “Some of them sound alike, some look alike. Medication safety is a major initiative across the country. And automation can remove many opportunities to receive incorrect medication.”

The New System

The dispensers will be located at the nurses’ stations. A light will signal if the incorrect drug is being requested and lighted panels will guide the nurse to the appropriate bin for their request.

This new system will be effective at Berkshire Medical Center by the end of 2007 and Fairview hospital should have the cutting edge device by 2008.

(Source: http://www3.berkshireeagle.com/headlines/ci_5879202)

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