Background In Spain wards usually order medicines electronically. Urgent or restricted medicines can be handwritten and are dispensed immediately.
Purpose To measure the time taken for technicians to dispense medicines in the pharmacy and to analyse handwritten prescriptions for drugs.
Materials and methods The study was conducted in a tertiary hospital. All handwritten orders were collected for 2 weeks from 8:00 to 15:00. This data was recorded: department, number of medicines, order arrival time, time taken to prepare the medicine, time of collection, whether or not a pharmacist consultation was necessary and the reason and whether it was justified as urgent.
Results 178 orders were received (18 a day) averaging 1.5 ± 1.0 drugs each (range: 1–6). Most orders were received on Tuesday and Friday and from 13:00 to 14:00, followed by 9:00 -10:00. Departments with more orders were ICU, Paediatrics, Emergency and Psychiatry. The time taken to prepare the medicines was 10 min (range: 0–125: 65% of them <10 min). 48% needed a pharmacist consultation before being dispensed, mainly due to restricted-use drugs (54%). Other reasons were: medicines not stocked in our hospital and compounding required for individual patients. Once prepared, the orderly took on average 9 min (from 0 min to more than 24 h) to pick up the medicines. Finally we found that 57% were not justified as urgent handwritten orders. 7% of the orders were not dispensed.
Conclusions By ISMP Medication Safety Self-Assessment for Hospitals 2007 standards, most orders were dispensed in a short time (<10 min). Although many of them were collected on the spot, others were not collected that day. It is noteworthy that about half of the orders were not justified as urgent, with the consequent disadvantage for the Department’s organisation. The most common causes of delay in preparation were that the orderly did not let the technician know the order had arrived and the high number of orders that needed a pharmacist consultation.
No conflict of interest.
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