Background Automation is an element that fits into the process for improving the safety and efficiency of the drug supply chain. Indeed, dispensation is an important step which must be perfectly controlled to prevent medication errors. In 2011, an automated dispensing system (two robots with two picking heads) was implemented at the hospital’s pharmacy.
Purpose The aim of the study was to evaluate the performance of the dispensing process after installing the robots.
Material and methods To measure the efficiency of the system and staff training, we analysed number and types of alarms of the robot.
We extracted the number of alarms in 2013 and 2014 using the automated system software.
Results In 2013 and 2014, respectively, 6983 alarms were recorded in 49 weeks corresponding to 1.2% of the number of pickings and 2873 alarms in 28 weeks corresponding to 0.5% of the number of pickings. A systematic analysis was performed when the number of alarms was higher than 10/day. The main errors were axis errors of picking head (39.5% (2759/6983) in 2013 and 46.6% (1339/2873) in 2014), followed by problems of detection in 21% of cases (1472/6983) in 2013 and in 13% (369/2873) in 2014, errors after picking boxes in 17% of cases (1202/6983) in 2013 and in 15% (426/2873) in 2014 and problems of measured length of boxes in 10% of cases in 2013 and 2014 (respectively, 682/6983 and 288/2873). The analysis of alarms allowed us to classify them into 3 types: alarms related to the system, mechanical alarms and the most frequent alarms related to improper use by staff. This observation led us to empower staff at different levels.
Conclusion These results showed an improvement in the system’s performance in 2014. These results also showed that the setting and regular monitoring of errors of the robot are critical elements to ensure good efficiency of system. The criteria ‘number of alarms’ was not written into the user requirement specifications but it could be. Staff training is also an important element to ensure correct use. Continuous training of staff is a key element to consider when installing an automated dispensing system.
No conflict of interest.
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