Every person is unique, as are their symptoms and illness. Therefore, distinct types of therapy, customized to each patient’s specific needs, are a necessary part of quality patient care.
Drug administration is a high-risk practice in and of itself. Aside from that, medical personnel in health care facilities are under extreme time constraints. Regardless, the only thing that matters, in the end, is that the appropriate drug at the proper dosage reaches the right patient at the right time. As a result, using the unit dose supply method helps hospitals reduce medication mistakes while also saving time for patient care.
The Benefits of the Unit Dose Supply Method
The unit dose supply method delivers the recommended dose of a given medicine to a specific patient at a particular time. It differs from previous approaches in that each dose of prescription medicine is packaged separately in a ready-to-administer form.
Each packet is labeled so that it can be identified until it is administered to the patient. The packaging, which is labeled with detailed information, including the drug’s generic name, strength, control number, and expiration date, essentially minimizes contamination caused by the drug’s transfer and handling. As a result, the approach significantly decreases the possibility of medication errors.
The unit dose method offers multiple advantages:
- Improved drug control and monitoring of drug usage.
- Reduction in credits for medications
- Pharmacists have more influence over work habits and schedules.
- Patient medication profiles can be kept at the pharmacy for each patient so that pharmacists may participate in patient care monitoring.
- Improved utilization of pharmaceutical and hospital staff.
- The pharmacy prepares all medicine dosages necessary, giving pharmacists and nurses more time to provide direct patient care.
- Because the number of drugs is limited to the patient’s needs for 24 hours only, there is less pilferage and drug waste.
- Lowers revenue losses
- Floor stock is decreased in size; floor stock is confined to pharmaceuticals for emergency use and often used products. It conserves space in the nursing unit, which helps reduce costs since inventory control is optimized.
- More accurate medication billing for patients. Patients are only charged for the dosages that are provided to them
It is a system that supports the five rights of medication administration: the right patient, the right drug, the right dose, the right route, and the right time.
Planning a unit dose system is a uncomplicated process that can be done without interrupting the pharmacy operation or impacting patient care.
Identify Medications to Package in Unit Dose Form
The process starts with the hospital identifying all medications for use as a single unit dose and determining the form of packaging needed. The unit dose method is best suited for medications that come in bulk packaging.
However, most other types of drug packaging, such as suppositories, ampoules, transdermal patches, or prefilled syringes, can be packaged into unit dosages. After creating a unit medicine dosage, the item may be ordered from the hospital unit for safe medication administration.
One significant advantage of unit dosages is that the pharmaceuticals are not removed from the unit dose package until they reach the patient. This also implies no cross-contamination with other medications or human contact.
Unit dosages can also be used to develop a patient-specific treatment that incorporates more than one medicine. The medications are delivered to the nursing stations in patient-specific treatment carriers. This approach drastically reduces the time nursing personnel spends physically storing, sorting, and providing medicine. Furthermore, clear labeling of medicine, dose, batch, and expiration date improves safety in handling high-risk medication. The use of barcode technology and scanning procedures can also help with drug identification.
Determine the Type of Desired Packaging for Each Medication
After the health care facility determines which medications are best suited for this unit dose supply method, and the ideal delivery method necessary for each, they must go through a system selection process that includes identifying the necessary equipment.
When identifying equipment requirements, include packaging equipment for the various dosage forms of medications such as tablets, capsules, injectables, and liquids. Other considerations include:
- Floor carts for direct distribution
- Modular filling stations
- Patient profile holders
Another critical decision to make is to decide what items should be purchased in unit-dose packages and what is best packaged in the pharmacy, and how that is accomplished. This will involve identifying the unique package requirements, what supplies the pharmacy needs, and what volume is necessary for each format.
When budgeting for the unit dose supply method, the administration must determine the cost of the equipment and consumable supplies and the potential return on investment. How much is implementing this system saving the hospital?
Also, consider the impact the implementation of unit dose packaging will have on the staff and patient care workflow. How will it affect different wards? The impact will likely be different in the pediatrics wards than in the areas that deal primarily with adult patients, such as an acute care facility.
The administration will also need to consider training time frames when planning implementation. Training will start in the pharmacy and then move to the medical and nursing units. Training can be conducted in a way that will not disrupt patient care.
Some efficient training approaches might include:
- Rotating pharmacy staff to work on the single dose dispensing every week until everyone goes through the training process
- Rotating the nurses through audiovisual presentations of the new system
- Providing general staff with information on the drug administration changes via newsletters or media
Training small groups at a time is the most effective way to avoid interruptions in patient care while still ensuring all employees understand the unit dose supply method.
Establish Internal Planning for All Unit Dose Packaged Medications
The unit dose supply method requires careful planning before implementation beyond equipment, supplies, and training. In addition, protocols for dose preparation need to follow safe medication practices closely.
The health care facility will also need to have a system in place for storage, whether it is in a bulk storage space or on a cart in the nursing unit. There must also be plans for internal flow from patient admission to patient medication profile to packaging to filling drug delivery carts.
Some common considerations include:
- Setting up the ward stock procedures
- Designing stock batch controls
- Inventory tracking and management
- Determine how to handle drugs not used
There may also be a need to modify existing procedures and to integrate current technology to support the new way of ordering and administering medication, along with how to do proper dose calculations and avoid medication errors.
Additional Pharmacy Requirements to Review
Do a space assessment to see how much room is available and decide how much extra space might be needed. A centralized pharmaceutical storage system with a pharmacy automation solution is essential to allow medical professionals to deal with unit dosages throughout a health care facility.
Nurses are liberated from repetitious chores and may dedicate more time to patient-related activities by centralizing drug storage and therapy preparation inside the central pharmacy. Selection and sorting mistakes that occur during the preparation of manual drug preparation are also eliminated. Therapies can be produced at any moment, whether planned or unplanned. The unit dosage drug and the therapeutic ring can also be manufactured at the same time.
It is necessary to ensure compliance with industry standards such as USP 800 and serialization. At the same time, healthcare facilities must implement safety protocols, QA standards, and testing.
However, the most critical aspect of implementing the unit dose supply method is partnering with the right company for equipment and packaging needs.
Medical Packaging Inc., LLC (MPI) was founded in 1971 and has since evolved to become one of the world’s top unit dosage packaging system manufacturers. We take pride in producing high-quality pharmaceutical packaging equipment, MPI-certified consumable materials, and our proprietary Pak-EDGETM UD Barcode Labeling Software. MPI, headquartered in Flemington, New Jersey, services customers in North America, Latin and South America, Europe, the Middle East, and emerging countries across the world. MPI aims to be the leading provider of pharmacy packaging solutions that help save patients’ lives while boosting productivity and profitability for all clients.
MPI strives for excellence in developing and producing pharmaceutical packaging systems, software, and MPI-certified consumable materials. We provide high-quality items at reasonable costs, and our equipment offers the most up-to-date features and functionality while preserving optimum dependability and simplicity of use. All our clients receive prompt, professional, and courteous customer service and technical assistance. We establish, maintain, and promote continuing connections with our customers, strategic partners, and distributors alike, based on a foundation of professionalism and excellence.
We work with clients to support them not just when they are first establishing their unit dose system program but throughout training to implementation to utilization. We are always developing our pharmacy packaging technologies to assure continuing conformity to industry rules and regulatory requirements for unit dosage pharmaceutical packaging. We also encourage continuous learning and development among all staff to guarantee that we can remain a leader in our ever-changing marketplace.