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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

When it comes to locating a tray in the event of a drug recall, a manual method requires staff members to open every single tray that includes that recalled medication in order to check whether that specific lot number is on the recall list. This process can take days to complete. In the past, Johnston says, if he knew that an inspection was imminent, he sent about seven workers out into the hospital to go over every tray and ensure that no medicines were set to expire. This project, he adds, could take the group an entire night. With Intelliguard, he can accomplish the same task alone in around 10 minutes.

Johnston says he doesn't tend to find any problems, since the solution is designed to catch approaching expirations as they occur.

Douglas Johnston, Scripps Memorial Hospital Encinitas' pharmacy director
"When you see the number of trays the pharmacy has to go through in a single shift," Johnston states, "you can understand that [with a manual system], they're going to take short cuts. They may not look at dates," he adds, or carefully read the names of the medications. Even with a second set of eyes, he notes, shortcuts could be taken. The hospital's internal study found that performing the manual processing properly would require an additional 1,500 man-hours per year.

Since the MEPS Intelliguard system was taken live, Johnston reports, the hospital's staff has expressed satisfaction with the new technology. "They love the efficiency around this," he says.

With Virtual Logbook, Johnston says, the actual time savings of knowing where in the hospital a tray is located, based on data input by the staff, has not yet been measured. However, he notes, running a report in the Intelliguard software to pinpoint a drug's location, versus sending workers out to physically retrieve and search through carts and trays, "can be potentially very significant in terms of savings."

Another Scripps medical facility, Scripps Mercy Hospital, is now trialing the same technology, Johnston says. If that trial goes well, he adds, all five Scripps hospitals, as well as a centralized pharmacy at another location, will adopt the system.

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