New pharmacy automation enhances patient safety

***image1***The pharmacy at the Sembach Air Base Clinic recently received a bar code computer assisted technology system called PharmASSIST. The main purpose of the new system is to reduce medication-dispensing errors.
With all Air Force pharmacies receiving PharmASSIST, Sembach AB is the third base in U.S. Air Forces in Europe to receive this technology. The Ramstein Clinic will receive their new system May 27.
A landmark Institute of Medicine report estimated that 48,000 to 98,000 medication-related errors occur every year in the United States.
“PharmASSIST enhances our counseling and dispensing techniques,” said Capt. Derek Larbie, diagnostics and therapeutics, flight commander, 435th Medical Support Squadron. “And although no system is fool proof in preventing errors from occurring, PharmASSIST has been shown to decrease overall dispensing errors by 80 percent.”
How does it work? Basically, PharmASSIST shows a picture of the medication on the pharmacy technician’s computer screen that links the prescription label to the medication via bar code technology. The system is designed to improve the way medications are filled, verified and finally dispensed to patients.
What does this mean to you? It means there will be an additional safety net whenever we process prescriptions.
We do not anticipate major disruptions or changes to the services provided. But, we will do our best to keep you informed if changes are anticipated.
How is the introduction of PharmASSIST going to affect pharmacy operations, and ultimately our patients? PharmASSIST will introduce a series of steps into our process of filling, verifying, and dispensing that we will not be able to circumvent.
“This may potentially lead to increased wait times,” said Capt. Fletes. “Although speed is what comes to mind when you think of automation, safety is what we are really concerned about.”
One novel way of preventing the potential increase in waiting times is our strong recommendation to you to request all prescription refills via either the Internet or phone. This will allow us to process the refill requests during low peak hours and/or after duty hours.
Refill prescriptions may be called in to 479-2540, 06371-46-2540 or through our new Internet refill site located on the Ramstein homepage at the Health tab and then clicking on 435th Medical Group Pharmacy. The Internet refill site is currently accessible only from Military computers.
For more information, call 479-2534 or 479-2536. (Courtesy of 435th Mission Support Squadron)