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Hospital Pharmacy Keeps Emergency Medication Kits in Check

The University of Maryland Medical Center's solution, from Kit Check, employs an RFID reader station to identify which medications are loaded onto a crash cart's tray, and which require replenishment.
By Claire Swedberg
Aug 13, 2012The pharmacy department of the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC), a 750-bed hospital located in Baltimore, is employing an RFID-based solution to aid in the stocking of medication kits transported around the hospital for use with patients in the event of emergencies. Thanks to the technology, provided by RFID startup firm Kit Check, the hospital knows what was loaded onto each tray to form a crash-cart kit, as well as which medications were used and which are approaching their expiration dates. In addition, the facility has reduced the amount of time employees must spend loading each emergency medication tray, from approximately 20 minutes down to less than 5 minutes.

Emergency medications are used for patients who may have experienced a heart attack or a severe allergic reaction requiring immediate intervention. Each kit comes with about 25 to 50 items, and is sealed until one of those supplies is required, at which time the kit's plastic covering is removed and the necessary items are taken out. Once the kit is no longer needed, it is then returned to the pharmacy, where staff members must determine what has been removed, and thus what must be replaced. The workers then reseal the kit for reuse, and also record the expiration dates of every item within the kit, in order to ensure that nothing is soon due to expire.

When a crash-cart tray is placed inside the Kit Check scanning station, the built-in RFID reader identifies which medications on the tray are missing or nearing their expiration dates.

Until the RFID system's installation, which occurred in April 2012, each expiration date had to be manually handwritten on a piece of paper, with two staff members checking every kit for errors.

The pharmacy department chose to utilize Kit Check system to automate this process, says Adrienne Shepardson, the hospital's manager of central pharmacy services, thereby providing greater assurance that a mistake is never made. For example, if an item were not replaced within a kit, and thus was not available during an emergency, a patient's health could be at risk. If a medication expires, it must be discarded without being used, causing the hospital to incur an unnecessary expense.

Kit Check provided the hospital with a device known as the Kit Check scanning station, amounting to an enclosed RFID reader. Once the tray is placed into the reader, a user can press the Scan button, thereby triggering the device to interrogate any tags within. The reader is wired to a PC that transmits read data to a cloud-based server, hosted by Kit Check. Software on the server displays the results on the PC's monitor.

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