Automated In-Facility Medication Packaging and Dispensing Systems Deliver Efficient Medication Management

By Swisslog Healthcare Staff

Correctional facilities face many challenges. Serving a highly transient population, correctional administrators must uphold the legal rights of inmates and adhere to strict regulatory requirements ensuring their well-being.

Within corrections settings, health care presents its own set of unique challenges. These include rising drug costs, tight operating budgets, and a growing nursing shortage. Nursing staff in correctional facilities must possess a high level of flexibility and efficiency as they move between performing intake exams, preparing and performing medication calls, and handling emergencies such as serious injuries or psychological trauma.

Operational inefficiencies can negatively affect many facets of delivering quality health care to inmates. Irrespective of whether a facility outsources medical services or retains its own staff, the effects of inefficiencies often cause an overworked staff, leading to retention issues. The nationwide nursing shortage experienced by the healthcare sector at large suggests fewer available resources. The difficulty in sourcing qualified nurses places increasing levels of importance in retaining them, especially for specialized environments like corrections.

Correctional nurses are under unique pressure to perform their duties while adhering to stringent mandates and rules, including the medical rights established with Estelle v. Gamble. Outdated processes, such as highly manual medication preparation, continue to drain nurses of their valuable time. Manual tasks raise the potential for serious human error and waste, both of which can expose the facility to increased expenses and the potential for lawsuits.

Fortunately, the InSite® In-Facility Medication Packaging and Dispensing System technology is available to help correctional facilities deliver healthcare services more efficiently. The hardware and software solution connects and automates the processes involved in packaging and dispensing medications.

How does it work? Consider the outdated, manual process of medication preparation. It requires a nurse to meticulously assemble medications for each inmate, collected from various sources including cumbersome blister cards.

Conversely, the automated process using the InSite system replaces manual medication preparation by dispensing the correct dose, packaged and labeled, into individual medication pouches right into the nurse’s hands for a specific medication call. This results in nurses having more time to care for inmates’ health and completing other high-value activities.

There are many benefits to using an automated medication packaging and dispensing system. The removal of manual medication preparation dramatically reduces the potential for human error. It also helps reduce the opportunity for medication diversion, as each dispense is tracked and reported. The system can be set to not dispense beyond the “Total Quantity Written” or prescribed to an inmate.

The InSite automated system substantially reduces human touches on medication packaging compared to traditional methods such as blister cards, assisting infection control efforts through minimized exposure. Instead of being handled by multiple nurses over many days, only the medications for a single medication call are handled at a time. Automation of medication management helps ensure that the facility is adhering to the inmates’ “bill of rights” and other local regulations. The system can also keep track of the location of inmates which helps to reduce waste resulting from unused medications intended for inmates who are not present due to a transfer, court date, or release. Facilities using technology to automate the medication management process can realize a dramatic increase in efficiency and reduction of costs associated with unused medications.

In fact, a key outcome from the increased efficiency of medication management automation gained by the InSite solution is its impact on cost savings. Unused and lost medications can result in hundreds of thousands of dollars lost each year. The ability of automation technology to ensure medications purchased are allocated and used correctly brings with it a massive reduction in waste and associated costs. Automation that helps provide even a small reduction in staff turnover can lead to significant potential savings. The increase in medications dispensation accuracy can help facilities mitigate the risks associated with medication errors and mismanagement.

The InSite system helps correctional facilities save money, as well as increase safety, and improve nurse retention. By implementing this technology, facilities can help reduce the risk of perpetuating inefficiencies, high costs, and the risk of litigation.

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Editor’s note: This article is designated as Branded Content and Correctional News does not ensure the veracity or accuracy of the information included within.