Implementation of design principles for the modern dispensary
Dispensary design should always be based on the needs of the user, to simplify tasks and processes to minimizes potential errors to make the dispensary a much safer environment for both staff and patients.
By breaking the dispensary process into the different basic stages of receipt of prescription and clinical check, labelling, assembly, accuracy check, ready script storage and final collection / accuracy check, and then reviewing each in turn, there are many practical improvements that can be made at little or no cost, although others may require a degree of planning. Simple workflow redesign has been proven to positively affect dispensary productivity, allowing the pharmacist more time for patient communication and counselling.
Medicine stock that is muddled can increase the risk of selection errors. The use of sloping, pull-out drawers and a simple A-Z storage system by proprietary or generic name will save time for new employees or locums and reduce the risk of picking errors.
Aim to incorporate separate refrigerators for stock and completed prescriptions awaiting collection to reduce the possibility of error. Glass-fronted refrigerators make the selection of medicines easier, and should be located near the assembly area, and close to the medicines collection point.
Tote boxes are a potential hazard, and require a designated area for storage, preferably outside of the dispensary, along with a temporary area for unpacking and checking deliveries before stock is put away. To reduce the risk of a mix-up with medicines waiting to be dispensed. This area could also be organized to keep returned or expired stock away from the dispensary, ideally in designated cupboards or under-bench area to differentiate it from medicine stock.
Most design principles apply to both paper and electronic prescriptions, however workflow practices have had to be adapted for EPS, sometimes requiring additional PC terminals to allow access to electronic copies of the prescription and an increased storage space allocated for ready scripts and medicines awaiting collection.
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