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Robot-Assisted Pharmacy At Montefiore Reduces Waiting Time and Medication Errors

New York, NY  (November 20, 2006)  – Montefiore’s out-patient pharmacy is increasing patient safety and cutting down on waiting time  -- with help from a robot.

“Automated prescription-filling machines are radically changing the way we work,” said Frank P. Sosnowski, director of Pharmacy at Montefiore.  “Our robot fills between 400 and 500 prescriptions a day, which frees up our pharmacists to spend more time addressing our patients’ questions and needs.  This really is the pharmacy of the future.” 

When a patient comes to the pharmacy with a prescription, the pharmacist enters the basic data (name of patient, medication and dose) into the computerized system.  The order is sent by computer to a large robotic dispenser  --  a machine about the size of two home refrigerators  --  that automatically identifies, counts, pours, bottles and bar-codes  the labels of the medications. 

“When the labeled bottles pop out of the robot, before we give the filled prescription to the patient we visually check the medications,” said Sosnowski.  “Then we scan the bar code on the bottle to trigger three computer images -- the original physician’s prescription, the actual pharmacist’s order and the bottled medication dispensed by the robot.  By comparing the images we can triple check the accuracy of the prescription before giving it to the patient,” he said. 

The new Script Pro automatic dispensing machine stores 1,600 tablets each of the top 200 prescriptions dispensed most frequently by the pharmacy.   If a prescription is for a lesser-used medication or for a cream or inhaler that cannot be dispensed by the machine, the computer order is automatically sent to a technician who fills the prescription the good old fashioned way  -- by searching it out and then pulling the inhaler or cream off of the shelf for the patient. 

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