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Alex adopts a 'wheely' good way to get patients' prescriptions quicker
1:50pm Thursday 4th October 2012 in Local
THANKS to the Alexandra Hospital’s League of Friends, the pharmacy department now has access to its own ‘computer on wheels’, which acts as a mobile pharmacy dispensing unit (PDU).
The unit was funded by the Friends in an effort to reduce the length of time patients wait for their prescriptions before discharge.
The PDU has a computer linked to pharmacy stocks in the main dispensary, a printer to label medicines with directions and a locked storage area underneath which can hold stocks of commonly used drugs.
Ward pharmacy teams already operate on some of the Alexandra Hospital’s medical wards, identifying what medicines patients are on as they come into hospital and supplying them directly into the medicine cabinet on their bedside locker.
This means nurses can administer medicines at the bedside, without trips back and forward to the clinical treatment room.
However, at discharge, before the use of the PDU, pharmacy staff were still having to make trips back and forwards from the wards to the main dispensary to obtain more medicines or re-label existing medicines with new directions.
The PDU will significantly reduce the waiting time for take home prescriptions to be dispensed to enable patients to go home with fewer delays.
The PDU is being used on the Medical Assessment Unit (MAU). This area assesses a large number of patients on a daily basis and patients are often discharged directly from there.
Due to the high demand for some medicines, ward-based pharmacy staff still have to access the main dispensary for extra supplies of urgently needed medicines or to re-label on a regular basis.
The PDU dramatically cuts the amount of time patients have to wait for their take home medicines.
Matt Kaye, lead pharmacist on the MAU, said: “The PDU has only been in the department a short time but it’s already making a huge difference to patients and staff.
“The machine itself is such a simple idea, but it goes a long way to help patients.
"It is going to save a considerable amount of waiting time as we are now able to dispense medication much closer to the time the prescription was written by the doctors. This saves patients having to wait for their prescriptions to be available before they can leave the hospital.”
Pat Hadley, League of Friends chair, said: “We are always raising money for different departments all over the hospital. We have so many requests we have to make sure we prioritise our donations, ensuring we pay for the most essential equipment to benefit patient care.
“We have around 300 volunteers at the Alexandra Hospital from flower arrangers to coffee shop workers, one or two who have been around since the hospital first opened. Our coffee shop, open to staff, patients and visitors is one of the main income generators for the charity.”