Automated dispensing machines—decentralized medication distribution systems that provide computer-controlled storage, dispensing, and tracking of medications—have been recommended as one potential mechanism to improve efficiency and patient safety, and they are now widely used in many hospitals.
Automated dispensing machines/cabinets incorporate sophisticated software and electronic interfaces to synthesize high-risk steps in the medication use process. These unit-based medication repositories provide computer controlled storage, dispensation, tracking, and documentation of medication distribution on the resident care unit. Since automated dispensing cabinets are not located in the pharmacy, they are considered “decentralized” medication distribution systems. Instead, they can be found at the point of care on the resident care unit. Tracking of the stocking and distribution process can occur by interfacing the unit with a central pharmacy computer. These cabinets can also be interfaced with other external databases such as resident profiles, the facility’s admission/discharge/transfer system, and billing systems.
ADMs are designed to meet the exact needs of the nurses and pharmacists that use them. When ADMs are purchased for a facility, the order is customized for whatever the cabinet will be specifically used for.
The drawers are available in a variety of configurations including locked, matrix, and sensing. Many ADM units include built-in tamper-evidence technology.