Assessment of an automatic robotic arm for dispensing of chemotherapy in a 2500-bed medical center.

Journal of the Formosan Medical Association = Taiwan yi zhi

PubMedID: 23537865

Chen WH, Shen LJ, Guan RJ, Wu FL. Assessment of an automatic robotic arm for dispensing of chemotherapy in a 2500-bed medical center. J Formos Med Assoc. 2013;112(4):193-200.
BACKGROUND/PURPOSE
Automation has long been awaited in parenteral drug dispensing. Pharmacists can benefit much in theory from a good automated device to handle the hazardous drugs used in chemotherapy. This paper describes the performance of the first chemotherapy-dispensing robot in the oncology pharmacy of a 2500-bed medical center. The objective of this paper is two-fold: (1) to assess the robot's performance in terms of its success rate and to summarize the causes of failure, and (2) to find out if the robot can decrease the full-time equivalents (FTEs) of the oncology pharmacy.

METHODS
We used the computer-generated log from the first week of May 2010 to that of July 2010, supplemented with the pharmacists' notes on the causes of failure, to determine the success rate and to analyze the incidences of failure. We also assessed the FTEs before and after implementing the robot.

RESULTS
Data showed that the success rate rose slowly from 76.8% to 95.3% over the 2-month recording period. The major mechanical problems encountered were air, clamping, and waste bin problems. Manual errors, such as loading wrong drugs or syringes, also caused failures. In terms of manpower saving, CytoCare failed to decrease the number of FTE pharmacists/technicians in our oncology pharmacy practice.

CONCLUSION
We conclude that even though CytoCare could ease the risk of chemotherapy exposure and increase the precision of dosing, it was not able to improve the FTE pharmacists/technicians in our hospital.