Hospital Leverages RFID to Track Anesthetic Drugs

August 7, 2014 Lea DeJarlais


By automating medication replenishment, hospitals ensure products needed are available, decrease errors due to manual restocking, and reduce labor hours spent refilling supplies. Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego, California recently deployed an RFID solution provided by MEPS Real-Time that tracks medications via a tray management system, and automates the replenishment process.

The temperature-controlled Intelliguard Kit and Tray management system features medication trays, and can be wheeled around the hospital thanks to its cart design. The system features a built-in Impinj Speedway Revolution reader that can be used to encode new tags, validate items on any tray, and provide information on missing or expired medications. Each medication is labeled with a UHF RFID tag featuring a Monza 4 tag chip.

When the hospital receives medication, a staff member inputs each drug’s name into the software and uses the cart to encode the tag, linking the medication data to a unique ID. The medication is also linked to a specific tray that has been coded to hold certain medications. If a medication is placed on an incorrect tray while being restocked, the staff member is alerted on the cart’s screen. Following an instance of products being removed from the cabinet, like surgery, the tray is moved to the pharmacy to be refilled with missing medications. The cart’s screen displays what items need to be replaced. The technician then replaces the missing inventory. Once the inventory is replaced, the cabinet scans the contents, determining if it is properly equipped and error-free. Once cleared, the tray is deemed ready for reuse.

The hospital reports that, previous to the implementation, refilling a single tray typically took a half hour or more, whereas the RFID solution takes about two minutes. Besides a reduction in labor, the system is also providing valuable data on medication usage, helping the anesthesiologists understand which medications are used most, and which aren’t being used at all. The hospital hopes to determine if this RFID system increases patient safety and allows the pharmacy to maintain quality assurance and regulatory compliance once the system has been running for a few months.

Source: RFID Journal

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