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Scripps Memorial Hospital Encinitas Expands RFID System to Manage Location of Drug Trays

The San Diego medical facility is now using MEPS' Virtual Logbook, in conjunction with the company's Intelliguard Kit and Tray Management System, to enable personnel to more quickly find RFID-tagged medications when they're needed elsewhere, or if any are recalled or nearing their expiration dates.
By Claire Swedberg
Aug 03, 2015

San Diego's Scripps Memorial Hospital Encinitas has adopted MEPS Real-Time's Virtual Logbook, in conjunction with MEPS' Intelliguard Kit and Tray Management System, to record when medication-filled trays leave the hospital's pharmacy, where they are going and when they are returned to the pharmacy. Virtual Logbook enables the hospital staff to easily input the location where a tray will be going, thereby saving employees time spent seeking RFID-tagged medications on those trays when they are required elsewhere, or if any are recalled or nearing their expiration dates.

Scripps Memorial Hospital Encinitas has 192 inpatient beds and performs 4,800 surgeries annually. The medical facility has been using the Intelliguard Kit and Tray Management System for a year and a half, and has achieved a reduction in labor, as well as in errors related to the packing of medicines on each tray. Trays for use with pharmaceuticals for neonatal, pediatric and adult surgeries, as well as anesthesia, are sent to the operating rooms to ensure that the medications are available as needed for each surgical patient. Other trays are delivered to locations throughout the hospital where patients are treated.

When a tray is dispensed, a hospital's pharmacist opens the Intelliguard software on a tablet and uses the device's touchscreen to enter the tray's ID and select the location where the tray is being taken.
Before installing the Intelliguard Kit and Tray Management System in November 2013, Scripps Memorial employed a manual method for identifying which medications were on which tray, as well as the expiration date for each drug. To ensure that errors were never made, such as the wrong medicine being packed on a tray, or one that would soon expire, workers had to visually check and double-check every item, a process that took nine to 27 minutes per tray to complete. Each tray typically has 16 to 139 items packed on it, and the hospital has approximately 100 trays (there are 14 different tray types) in use on any given day. Altogether, the repacking of trays takes place 6,100 times each year.

Despite the careful checking and re-checking performed by pharmacists and technicians at the pharmacy, the process still left room for error. The hospital conducted an internal study and found that expired drugs could still find their way onto trays, and that trays were sometimes missing medications.

Such errors are a concern not only to hospitals, but also to health-care agencies, including the California State Department of Public Health and the California State Board of Pharmacy, says Doug Johnston, Scripps Memorial Hospital Encinitas' director of pharmacy. Hospitals typically receive unannounced visits from these agencies and others each year, with pharmaceutical inspectors looking to view medication trays, what's on them and when each drug is due to expire.

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