It’s Self-Evident – Equip all technicians with scan verification software”

Michael Stotz, Senior Marketing Manager, Kirby Lester

Pharmacy today operates in the midst of a litigious society. Coupled with a steady increase in the number and types of drugs the probability of a error continues to increase. Technology provides an opportunity to reduce the chances of a mistake reaching a patient. This article from Mike Stotz provides some perspectives on technology as a risk management tool. – PMC

At its December 2015 meeting, the Minnesota Board of Pharmacy hosted a spirited public dialogue on mandating breaks for community pharmacy staff members. The Board was rightly concerned about errors directly or indirectly caused by hunger, long shifts, eye strain, and physical discomfort. Public Radio, national newspapers, Pharmacy Times and a host of social media chatter followed, most of the “self-evident” variety: if a known problem can cause grievous errors, pharmacy management has a responsibility to do everything reasonable and practical to fix it. Pharmacists, as stressed and pressured as technicians, are challenged to catch errors that may be made. Technology, in the form of scan-verification software, is available to help.

The software forces a technician to use a computer to match a patient’s prescription information to the medication stock bottle/box. If the technician has the wrong medication or strength in hand, the scan-verification software halts the technician in his or her tracks, ideally with both visual and audible alerts. The software is available as either part of a pharmacy management system (PMS), or onboard an automated counting device like a tabletop pill counter or robot. As part of PMS software, scan-verification may be available at no cost or as an add-on module, but can be cumbersome and ignored. While the software ensures the right medication and strength, the technician can still make counting errors, and there is no record of how much medication was actually dispensed.

The other option is to include scan-verification technology as part of an automated counting device. It operates in a similar mode as the PMS module, with the added benefit of physically counting the medication. This eliminates the manual tray’s inaccuracy, ensures the technician reaches the exact quantity, and provides an undisputable record of what was dispensed. A counting device can take two forms. Fully automated robots completely handle the vial selection, labeling and filling of a pharmacy’s most frequently dispensed medications. Tabletop counting + verification devices can be deployed in pharmacies without robots. These small devices handle the verification and counting of 100% of orders (not just high movers), including unit-of-use. Counting devices (robot or tabletop) can either augment a PMS suite, or act as a stand-alone technician station.

The benefits of scan-verification technology are proven. For example, a 2015 Kirby Lester study measured community pharmacies’ usage of a tabletop counting-plus-verification device and found:

  • 2.7 errors/week on average were prevented.
  • 72% of pharmacy owners/managers reported their technicians’ awareness of the potential for medication errors significantly increased after using the device.

It’s time to start questioning the wisdom of allowing technicians to fill scripts without a technology safety net. Whether scan-verification software is used as part of the PMS or onboard a counting device, this technology is affordable, easy to use and proven to prevent errors. (And even free up time for that much-needed lunch break.)

For additional information about this article, contact Michael Stotz at mstotz@kirbylester.comcreate new email or 847.984.0320

For information about Kirby Lester, visit opens in a new or 800.641.3961