SOMC Creates New Medication Control Technology

Southern Ohio Medical Center became the first hospital approved by the Ohio State Board of Pharmacy to deploy its own technology and process of checking controlled medications loaded into automated dispensing units for nursing staff.

In May 2007 the board approved SOMC’s “Pyxis Check,” a program written by the hospital’s own Information Services staff.

“SOMC was in the process of upgrading the automated dispensing units for controlled subtances throughout the hospital,” SOMC Pharmacy Director Rory Phillips explained. “The Pyxis system is used to secure controlled substances and other prescription drugs, such as narcotics, and requires biometric identification (fingerprint) to access these medications.”

Phillips said state regulations require a system of checking to assure the correct medication is loaded into each Pyxis unit. Typically this requires pharmacist approval.

“I believe our system is safer than human eyes. There are a lot of reasons why a human can make a mistake and the wrong drug could be placed in the wrong compartment in the Pyxis unit,” Phillips said.

“Dennis Ward and Brian Hickman in our own Information Services department wrote a special program that allows a pharmacy technician to scan the barcode of the medication, then a special barcode on the compartment of the Pyxis unit. If the wrong drug is scanned, an audible alert sounds to tell the technician something is wrong.”

“The Information Services department is proud to play a part in supporting clinical excellence here at SOMC,” Ward said. “By developing this program in-house, we were able to enhance an existing best-practice process.”

The Pyxis Check system resembles the Bar Code Medication Administration system now in place at SOMC for nurses to administer medication at the patient’s bedside. Special dispensers in the halls by patient rooms contain the barcode medication packets of non-controlled scheduled medications for each patient. The nurse uses a scanner on the packet, the patient’s ID bracelet and the nurse’s own badge to assure the right patient is receiving the right medication at the right time by the right person.

“We are proud of our own Information Services staff for being able to create this program tailored to our needs,” Phillips said. “This kind of safety initiative and leadership has created interest among some Columbus-based hospital pharmacy staffs, who have asked if they could obtain copies of this for their use as well.”