Your doctor may still be human, but your pharmacist may soon go cybernetic. A robotic drug dispensary system at the University of California, San Francisco is spitting out oral and injected medications for all kinds of patients.
Getting the wrong medication is the greatest risk facing patients under traditional pharmacy systems, according to UCSF Medical Center CEO Mark Laret. But the automated system has prepared some 350,000 doses without a single error, the institution says.
The room-size robots store drugs in dozens of small boxes in a sterile environment. After the 12-hour prescription is received as a digital file, a robot arm finds the correct labeled drug, prepares the proper dose in bar-coded plastic bags on a ring and spits them out into a large bin.
Nurses will begin scanning the bar codes at patient bedsides this year to confirm the doses are correct. Doctors, meanwhile, will begin inputting prescriptions directly into computers next year.