System Links Nursing Home and Pharmacy to Reduce Drug Errors

Article excerpt

A new medication-ordering system uses the Internet to link a pharmacy to its nursing home clients as a way to cut down on telephone tag, illegible faxes, and medication errors.

The Automated Medication Ordering System (AMOS) from RNA Health Information Systems in Englewood, Ohio, gives long-term care facilities an electronic communications pathway into the pharmacy's computer system. For example, nurses can complete refill orders by marking needed medications from a list of active orders displayed on the computer screen. The order is then transmitted instantly to the pharmacy. The pharmacy can promptly notify the facility of the order's status or any problems filling it.

Wasted time is something Joanne Belcher, R.N., a developer in RNA's Internet Product Division, remembers from her days on the nursing home floor. "As a nurse running a unit, I'd place a call to the pharmacy when I could," she said. "If the pharmacist wasn't available, we'd get into telephone tag. As a result, you have a lot of communication inefficiencies. With AMOS, a nurse can place the orders, pass out medications, come back and check the log to determine whether there's anything she needs to know about. And the pharmacy can communicate back without having to be on hold while the nurse locks up the drug cart and comes back to the phone. …