Hospital pharmacists look to dispense medicine faster, safer

By Teena Monteleone
November 9, 2017 - 10:00am

Pharmacists prepare and package thousands of prescriptions manually with an outdated and obsolete pill packaging system at the Victoria Regional Hospital in Prince Albert.

That’s according to Lori Friesen, Director of Pharmacy for the Prince Albert Parkland Health Region. She said it’s a time-consuming process; time that could be better spent meeting with patients.

“Studies show that hospital times can be reduced and outcomes improved when pharmacists are actually on the floor working closely with the patients' doctors and nurses and speaking directly with patients,” Friesen said.

The regional pharmacy department based out of the Victoria Hospital provides services to inpatients in the 190 acute care beds, mental health units, 13 regional primary care sites, several First Nations communities, the regional chemotherapy and renal dialysis centres, and 12 long term care facilities.

“One technician stands there and picks pills all day just for this hospital… and another technician comes in and double checks what they did for safety reasons, and then that tech delivers the pills to the rooms,” Friesen said. “Those are two full time jobs that could be better utilized on the floor.

The Victoria Hospital Foundation (VHF) wants to help replace the old pill packaging system the pharmacy currently uses with a new $400,000 automated machine.

“[The pharmacists] are struggling to keep up with the growing demand to ensure everyone who needs vital medications receive them quickly and accurately,” Sherry Buckler said, VHF Executive Director.

The new machine can pre-package up to 400 different types of prescription medications and includes a verification safety check system that will nearly eliminate the risk of error.

“I talked to the pharmists in North Battleford who use this machine and they said it used to take them from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. to fill and now it only takes about 2 hours,” Friesen said.

An annual radiothon to raise funds for the VHF will take place on Friday, Dec. 1 live from the lobby of the hospital. The ‘Give a Little Life’ day radiothon will air on CKBI, Power 99 and XFM from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Over the last 12 years, the radiothon has raised $5 million for the Victoria Regional Hospital.


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On Twitter: @TeenaMonteleone

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