Optimizing the Use of Automated Dispensing Cabinets


  • Sylvia Hyland ISMP Canada
  • Christine Koczmara ISMP Canada
  • Bonnie Salsman ISMP Canada
  • Emily Lap Sum Musing University Health Network
  • Julie Greenall ISMP Canada





According to the Hospital Pharmacy in Canada annual report for 2005/2006,1 32% of respondents to a survey of Canadian hospitals with at least 100 beds reported use of automated dispensing cabinets, an increase from only 20% in a similar survey conducted 2 years earlier.2 The automated dispensing cabinet is one of many technologies that may be implemented as hospitals and other health care organizations work toward computerization and automation of medication-use systems. These units can be simple to operate, but a full understanding of the potential risks associated with their use is crucial to avoiding unforeseen sources of error. Implementation and management of automated dispensing cabinets requires an interdisciplinary approach, and pharmacists’ contributions to the team are key. Those responsibilities include implementing, as part of the pharmaceutical care process, various practices to ensure safe outcomes, as well as medication distribution and related operational procedures. Guidance on the appropriate use of automated dispensing cabinets is available through a variety of sources, including the Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP) in the United States3 and the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists.4 The current article, much of which is excerpted, with permission, from a recent issue of the ISMP Canada Safety Bulletin,5 highlights commonly encountered challenges and provides strategies for optimizing the use of automated dispensing cabinets.


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Safe Medication Practices / Pratiques d'utilisation sécuritaire des médicaments