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Northumbria nurses back time-saving drugs technology


Accident and emergency nurses have welcomed technology that stores and dispenses medicines, including controlled drugs, according to a trust that is the first to use it in the north east.

Northumbria Healthcare Foundation Trust is rolling out automated storage cabinets to wards and departments at its North Tyneside and Wansbeck General Hospitals, following a six month trials of the technology in A&E.

Fingerprint identification is used to gain entry to the cabinets and guiding lights direct the nurse to the medicines required.  

The trust said the system enhanced medicines security, helped make sure drugs were available when patients needed them, and meant nurses did not have to search for cupboard keys or keep handwritten records on controlled drugs.

In addition, when stocks become low the system automatically triggers an email alert to pharmacy - a task would normally be carried out by nurses.

Lauraine Gibson, A&E matron at North Tyneside General Hospital, said: “The clinical team think the new system is a great idea, it frees up valuable time for nurses to focus on patient care.  

“The automated system provides the right medicine at the right time for patients so it is a safe efficient way to provide medication,” she said.

Senior clinical pharmacist for clinical informatics, David Jones, added: “Nursing staff in particular welcome the time to care for their patients as the pharmacy team restock the cabinet and the guiding lights identifying the dosage needed means there is less chance of error when taking medicines from the cabinet.”

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Readers' comments (4)

  • brilliant idea

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  • need for a registered nurse to do the medicine round any more. I'm all for improving patient safety, but am somewhat worried about eroding skills. I think we are entering the robotic age.
    I am not being facetious, genuinely worried about where we are heading with everything regarding patient care.

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  • drug management and administration in care homes can be a total nightmare where patients all have their own GPs and their pharmacists from all around the district.

    learning and trying to keep up with all the drug groups and their actions, potential side effects and interactions and observing residents for them is one thing, having to remember all of the ever increasing number of different generic labels and their equivalents is another and then actually having the time to help each patient and ensure they take their medication when some of the more mobile or independent ones are not in their rooms or the meal table at the time of the drug round is totally another, added to the mix of constant interruptions and having to push a trolley through a large rambling old country house of a home, not to mention ordering the drugs, new prescriptions, repeat prescriptions,even getting hold of a doctor and getting one to write a prescription, arranging them when they come and regular stock taking with further constant interruptions and remember to keep all drugs locked up at all times when constantly interrupted and forever locking and unlocking the trolley or cupboard, if you even remember where you last laid down the keys to answer that query, the phone, find a lost patient, take one to the loo or pick up somebody from the floor, the the rest of the endless list ......... forget it and find another job or get your employers to engage a full time pharmacist or robot or at least to do all of the other jobs and answer the queries whilst you 'do the drugs' or are pushed yourself 'to do drugs'!

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  • The above is the norm in many care homes and on top of that you are made to clean up the mess made by clients who are not continent and won't tolerant any form of continence management. Cleaners work straight shifts its as if clients stop being incontinent at 4 or 5pm. No wonder all infections going round its time cleaning was a 24hr job in all hospitals and care homes as this work is left for the limited staff that are on nights.

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