FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. -- Kimbrough Ambulatory Care Center's pharmacy will close from Dec. 23 to Jan. 2 to undergo a technical upgrade to improve its operations and enhance the speed, safety and accuracy of dispensing prescriptions.

A new robotic prescription-dispensing system will be installed while the pharmacy is closed. The pharmacy will reopen Jan. 3.

The system will work with the pharmacy's existing computer system to fill, label and collate up to 150 prescriptions per hour, dispensing tablets and capsules of any size and shape into standard pharmacy vials.

The robotic system was developed by ScriptPro Pharmacy Automation, a company located in Mission, Kan.

There is little chance of error and no drug cross-contamination because the system fills directly from the dispensing cell into the vial. Bar codes are used throughout the process to ensure accuracy and quality control, according to the ScriptPro product brochure. The system also prints and applies the prescription label.

The pharmacy's staff can manage the dispensing process using computer touch screens at their workstations to verify and approve the final product.

"The expectation is that we will increase patient safety and efficiency; it's a win-win," said Maj. Martin Russell, chief of pharmacy services. "The robot will do a lot of the work for us, and we can focus on patient care."

Sgt. 1st Class James Wilson, the noncommissioned officer-in-charge of the pharmacy, said many Army pharmacies use automation to improve and ensure patient safety.

"The train has come around to us, and it's time to get on," he said.

The pharmacy recommends that patients pick up their medication refills before Dec. 27 or after Jan. 1.

If this is not possible, new prescriptions and refills can be handled by another military medical treatment facility in the region.

Civilian network pharmacies, such as CVS, Walmart and Walgreens, which accept Tricare insurance, can also be of service.

"We do appreciate our patients' patience during this transition," Russell said. "When we're done, we will provide better patient care."

Page last updated Thu December 8th, 2011 at 00:00