UMMC Uses RFID to Track Emergency Medical Kits

June 10, 2013 Kristen Hess

UMMC Uses RFID to Track Emergency Medical Kits

At RFID Journal LIVE! 2013, Adrienne Shepardson Phar.D., the manager of Central Pharmacy Services at the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC), described the center’s new RFID solution, which helps automate inventory of drugs in emergency kits.

While the staff at any hospital must be prepared for medical emergencies, this is especially important at UMMC. The center treats many victims of gang violence, and out of 757 beds in the hospital, 300 of those are allocated to the intensive care unit. On average, extreme medical emergencies necessitating the use of emergency medicine trays occur three times daily.

There are different types of trays placed on code carts throughout the medical center. Each is stocked with anywhere from 50-70 types of medication. To make sure that all of the appropriate medicine is available in the event of an emergency, the UMMC pharmacy had to manually check 15-20 trays each day.


This manual check was arduous. First, the pharmacy technician would count and replenish missing drugs, and verify that all drugs were properly sealed and had not yet reached their expiration dates. Next, the pharmacist would perform the exact same check. Processing each tray would take 10 minutes per person, and at 20 trays a day, this meant that the pharmacy spent 400 minutes daily inventorying emergency medical trays. In addition to being time consuming, this manual checking system had an error rate of 1 in 20.

UMMC paired with Kit Check to seek an inventory solution that would be less labor-intensive and more accurate.

How It Works:
All drug boxes or bottles are tagged with Avery Dennison inlays containing Impinj Monza RFID chips. Each chip is programmed with the drug’s national drug code (NDC), LOT number (which denotes the specific batch or release of a given drug) and its expiration date.

Each tray is also tagged and encoded with information about what type of tray it is, such as a pediatric tray, and its specific drug requirements.
When the pharmacy technician inventories the trays, he or she still must inspect them manually to make sure that all containers are sealed, dry, etc. The rest of the check is then performed by an RFID reader. The technician simply places the tray in the Kit Check reader machine, and web-based SaaS software interprets reads and shows the technician if there are any expired, soon-to-be-expired, missing or extra drugs present. The technician then replenishes the tray and rescans the tray in the Kit Check machine to double check that it is complete. The technician then prints out an inventory summary sheet that has all tray information including the expiration dates of all of the tray’s contents for the pharmacist to quickly review.

RFID Benefits:
The Kit Check RFID-enabled inventory process takes only 5 minutes per tray, as opposed to the prior twenty minutes, and the error rate is only 1 in 4,000, compared to the previous error rate of 1 in 20. As a result, the pharmacy is able to have the pharmacist do more clinical work, instead of spending large amounts of time counting drugs in kits.

The RFID system also allows the pharmacy to have a record of what drugs are in use, and what drugs are set to expire next, so it can work with drug suppliers to preemptively restock drugs.

Furthermore, the pharmacy has a record of drug LOT numbers and their tray location, which makes it easy for them to quickly replace tainted drugs in the event that a certain batch is recalled.

UMMC is so pleased with its RFID solution that it is expanding the system to inventory operating room trays. In addition, UMMC is working with a drug repackaging company to have it pre-tag medications before they reach the medical center.

Interested in the expanding use of RFID technology in the healthcare field? Continue reading about RFID in healthcare.

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