A new device that locates drug keys within seconds is being piloted at Portsmouth Hospitals Trust where nurses claim the gadget is reducing drug errors and stress for staff.
The invention, called Key Finder, involves a fob being attached to the drug keys, which then vibrates and alarms when activated by a tracking device used by another nurse who needs the keys.
The nurse then returns to the station where the tracking device is kept to pass on the keys to the clinician who needs them.
“Every nurse realises there is a problem with drug keys – either you are interrupting other staff to find them, or staff leave the department with them”
Paediatric practice educator Sally Gray, who designed the gadget, said hunting for drug keys had been an “ongoing problem” for nurses for years and often caused delays for patients receiving medication.
Ms Gray, who works in the trust’s paediatric department where the device is being trialled, said since the tracking device and fob had been introduced drug errors had been reduced as nurses had more time to prepare medication.
Patient experience has also been improved because nurses no longer disturb patients by searching clinical areas and shouting to staff to try and find the keys, she said.
“This device has been a godsend because it means nurses have more time to prepare medicines and spend time with patients”
The fob also automatically lets off an alarm if the keys are removed from the ward, alerting the nurse to return with them.
It is also designed to be ward-specific so that adjacent ward areas using a Key Finder do not create cross-interference.
Ms Gray said: “Every nurse realises there is a problem with drug keys – either you can’t find them and you are interrupting other staff to locate them or staff leave the department with them when they need to go to another ward or sometimes even home.”
She added: “This device has been a godsend because it means nurses have more time to prepare medicines and spend time with patients.
“Also, since we have had the device, no one has left the department with the keys, which usually meant you had to go to another ward for the drug you need.”
The invention prototype, which has been produced by wireless systems developer Multitone Electronic, is being piloted at the trust’s paediatric department before being rolled out to 12 other wards and eventually all clinical areas by early 2016.
Its creation has been supported by NHS Innovations – which helps NHS staff develop ideas to create new products that improve practice.