Medication costs for in-patients in the U.S. are on the rise, highlighting the need for careful medication administration. Leading customer integrated system (CIS) providers have offered barcoded medication administration (BCMA) tracking tools for almost 20 years, and implementing them safely should be a concern for hospitals in the U.S. and elsewhere.

Medication Distribution Efficiency

Previously, medication distribution processes are easily sidestepped, showcasing the need for reliable and time-saving improvements. Among these was the introduction of medication carts small enough to enter patient rooms, unit dose packaging, and barcoded labeling and authentication.

Tracking medication has become the norm in most U.S. hospitals and is beginning to be implemented in other countries. Hospitals have a large financial stake in BCMA success as it is designed and implemented.

By decreasing the risk of mistakes, barcoded medication distribution can help hospitals operate faster and perform distribution tasks only once. If time really is money in the healthcare industry, BCMA should be worth the investment.

Tools for Medication Distribution

Once medication barcoding was more or less standardized, the tools to implement the system became increasingly cost-effective.

A typical BCMA system includes a wheeled computer cart equipped with electronically locking drawers, individual user passwords, and barcode readers. These carts are designed small enough to fit bedside, where space is tight.

Caregivers appreciate storage for tools and medical supplies, so most medication carts provide mobile storage with a variety of drawers. A typical drawer configuration includes several medication bins in a cassette format and one larger drawer.

Vendors offer medication storage and fixed dispensing cabinets. The cabinets are password secured and can store patient profile information. Some medical facilities merge Unit-based medication storage with older processes by having a caregiver retrieve meds for one or two patients from the Unit storage cabinet and then deliver the medications to patients.

In another workflow design, the patient-specific medication bins are filled in the pharmacy under robotic control, assuring compliance between the hospital record of patient need and delivery.

Mechanisms

Some hospitals still allow caregivers to retrieve meds from a fixed cabinet to deliver to one or two patients. Caregivers may also exchange and temporarily store cassette drawers in larger, locked, more-or-less stationary med carts in the Unit.

Some hospitals prefer to use punch cards to keep track of drug distribution. Medication carts can accommodate punch card technology.

This mix of methods demonstrates the initiative of planners and the variety of tools available to meet various needs. In all cases, the medications are scanned back to patient records upon delivery for accuracy, record keeping, and charge capture.

BCMA Tools from Scott-Clark Medical

Scott-Clark Medical is a pioneer of BCMA-compliant med carts, offering early models to several U.S. hospitals in 1999. The design included a medication cabinet drawer assembly to provide a drawer for each patient of one caregiver for one shift. This compact drawer system used the same security of the larger cabinets, modified slightly for mobile use.

Several years ago, we enhanced this design to meet the developing needs of our customers. We added a locking system that allowed caregivers to lock and unlock a single drawer at a time and keep records of each opening and closing. A proprietary cassette system further enhanced the new product.

In 2017, we addressed the issues of power management that accompanies battery systems. Our hybrid LiFe power kit provided flexibility for keeping a cart operating. We offer a power enhancement that is rooted in the computer on the cart. Our lightweight battery supports a medical cart for over 20 hours before it needs attention. This battery system offers a significant advantage over computers with built-in batteries that can only supply 3 to 5 hours of power.

Drawer configurations that can support the variety of med distribution methods, long time between recharge, and low energy yet high-performance onboard computers make Scott-Clark Medical medication carts the premier BCMA tool.

Accessories for Mobile Medication Carts

Medication carts can be accessorized to best serve your medication and storage cart needs. From locking narcotics in drawers to disposing of biohazards to infection control, Scott-Clark Medical has you covered.

Our available accessories include:

  • Sharps disposal
  • Glove box
  • Baskets
  • Sani-wipes
  • Barcode wands and readers                         
  • Hand cleanser

Barcoded Medication Authentication

Medication Cart Technology

Medication carts improve hospital efficiency, and some characteristics of medication carts, like locking drawers and impeccable organization, have also been used in emergency crash carts and isolation carts.

Swivel casters enhance the maneuverability of medication carts, making it easy for caregivers to bring the carts to patients. Casters with ball bearings roll smoothly and are easy to maintain.

Aside from providing maneuverability, casters should be conductive to send static electricity into the hospital floor rather than allowing it to travel to the equipment aboard the cart.

Some physicians assume heavy-duty steel or stainless steel construction is best for their medication carts, but most of the time durable, yet lightweight products, including aluminum and plastic, make superior medication carts.

A well-designed medication cart provides the flexibility that wall mount medication distribution systems don’t have.

Final Thoughts

Mobile medication carts are important tools for barcoded medication distribution. Healthcare facilities can reduce mistakes and save time by using mobile carts with BCMA capabilities to dose patients.

The right medical cart with the right accessories can help your medical facility enhance the quality of care you provide your patients. Contact Scott-Clark Medical at (512) 756-7300 to learn more about what products are best for your practice, hospital, or clinic.

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