Research evidence shows that medication errors and adverse drug reactions are common at all stages of the medicine use process. These are associated with a high cost in terms of patient outcomes as well as financial consequences due to additional treatment or litigation.

It is well documented that the use of automation can significantly reduce errors and give pharmacy teams the confidence and peace of mind throughout the dispensing process. Whilst mortality as a result of a dispensing error is relatively low; it is a risk that plays on the mind of even the most conscientious.

The most common errors occur in what are known as Look-Alike, Sound-Alike (LASA) medicines. These can commonly be mis-selected during the dispensing process as they have similar names or similar looking packaging. LASA dispensing errors are one of the most common causes of medication errors. Pharmacy has a key role to play in patient safety and there have been a number of high profile cases in recent years that demonstrate the importance of reducing the incidences of errors and near misses.

The top ten highest risk LASA combinations accounted for over 70 million prescriptions in 2017, they are:

Amitriptyline Amlodipine
Allopurinol Atenolol
Carbimazole Carbamazepine
Prednisolone Propranolol
Rosuvastatin Rivaroxaban

LASA errors happen for a variety of reasons related to how our brains work when reading prescriptions and packaging. In the English language, reading from left to right can prompt confusion when the start of a medicine name is similar.

These problems are wholly symptomatic of the current manually laborious process of prescription assembly.

Golden Tote is significantly safer than the traditional dispensing model

Golden Tote uses bar code scanning technology, which means every step of the dispensing process is incredibly safe as automation kicks in, taking over the manual process.

The prescription, tote box and items are tracked electronically through the supply chain, from the point that the prescription is scanned to the point of dispensing the medication to the patient.

Using what is termed as ‘pick to prescription’ technology; batches of prescriptions can be scanned into the system and items ordered through PHOENIX. The items belonging to the batches of prescriptions are picked and delivered back to you in one tote; what we call Golden Tote.

The tote box is then scanned, which links that tote to the prescriptions held on your PMR system. The PMR will print a label to represent each prescription which is placed on a prescription basket.

All items are then scanned as they are taken from the tote and your PMR system will tell you which basket the item belongs to. Once the process is complete, the basket’s items can be bagged and the prescription is ready to go.

The simplicity of the system and technology involved, gives you peace of mind and the confidence to embrace a proposition that has taken years of investment and development and has been pressure tested across pilot sites within our estate.

Golden Tote is a game change for community pharmacy and is a critical and welcome step forward in keeping those we care for within our communities safe from potential dispensing errors.

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