Pharmacy Robot Joins Cancer Center
The robot mixes speed, safety and reliability into a winning formula for patients and staff.
Chemotherapy saves and prolongs lives. But the mixture of drugs designed to kill cancer cells while sparing healthy ones has shortcomings. The drugs are dangerous to handle, require precision to prepare and take time to formulate. A robotic pharmacist at Cone Health Cancer Center at Wesley Long Hospital tackles these shortcomings.
The cancer center is the first community hospital cancer center in the country to use the APOTECA from Loccioni. The half-million dollar system comes online in September.
A pharmacy tech reviews patient orders and feeds the appropriate chemicals into the system. The system scans bar codes confirming the chemicals and weighs each vial. Then it mixes the compound, reweighs the vials ensuring it used the right amount of each chemical and delivers the chemotherapy ready for patient use. What can take 18 minutes for staff takes five minutes for the APOTECA.
“You can’t get it wrong in cancer care. We have checks and double checks to make sure our patients get the chemotherapy their doctor ordered,” says Adam Peele, PharmD, director, Oncology Pharmacy Services, Cone Health. “This adds another layer of safety.”
Peele says that the improved efficiency will add to patient care. Pharmacists will spend more time talking with patients and less time mixing medications.
The device also improves staff safety. All of the work is done in enclosed cabinets, reducing the chances of inhaling vapors or accidently being exposed to the powerful medications.
Work begins soon on the installation of an APOTECA at Cone Health Cancer Center at Alamance Regional Medical Center. That one should come online early next year.
APOTECA Chemotherapy Mixing