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North Carolina Hospital Identifies Recalled Drugs Via RFID

The UHF solution, provided by Kit Check, enables the CaroMont Regional Medical Center to reduce the time employees spend locating and replacing recalled medications on crash carts, as well as replacing drugs and resealing kits, from more than 20 hours down to about two hours.
By Claire Swedberg
Aug 14, 2013

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) averages between 350 and 375 medication recalls annually—a number that has recently been on the rise, according to Mike Molby, the director of pharmacy services at CaroMont Health's CaroMont Regional Medical Center, who receives and must address such recalls. The majority of these requests, he says—approximately 300 of them—affect the Gastonia, N.C. hospital. With each recall, Molby reports, the hospital's pharmacy must determine if it uses that medicine, and then locate and remove the drug in order to ensure that it is not administered to a patient. In some cases, the medications are stored on crash carts distributed throughout the hospital. Pharmacy personnel must search for those carts, open each sealed kit and then return those kits to the pharmacy to be restocked, resealed and placed back on the cart.

A Kit Check scanning station
The hospital has eliminated much of that manual process, however, thanks to the installation in May 2013 of a radio frequency identification-based solution provided by Kit Check. The solution consists of Zebra Technologies printers, passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) readers built into a Kit Check scanning station, and UHF EPC RFID tags attached to medications, as well as to the kits in which they are packed. The technology enables users to know if any kits contain recalled drugs, as well as which ones, simply by accessing the Kit Check software. Since the system's installation, Molby reports, it has eliminated the need for workers to manually search each crash cart during a recall, while also ensuring that the identification of recalled medications proceded quickly.

The CaroMont Regional Medical Center is a 435-bed hospital with 96 crash carts containing emergency medical kits, as well as several dozen independent kits at stationary locations, each filled with 20 to 50 medications or other emergency items required by patients in urgent need of treatment for a stroke or some other condition. What makes CaroMont unique, says Kevin MacDonald, Kit Check's co-founder and CEO, is the speed at which the hospital deployed the system: The facility's pharmacy had tagged the majority of medications used in the kits within only about two days.

Tagged medications can be monitored using the Kit Check solution.
With the Kit Check technology, MacDonald explains, the hospital staff first scans bar codes on medications, and then prints an EPC UHF RFID tag on a Zebra R110 xi4 printer. The tag is applied to the medication, while the collected data is stored in the Kit Check software residing on the company's hosted server, and is available to hospital personnel via a password. The printer then encodes and prints a tag for each kit, in order to identify its category—for example, a stroke treatment kit for an adult male patient.

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