A new system the trust is using to manage stock levels of medication had led to significant improvements to patient care.
The trust uses Omnicell cabinets across its hospitals to help improve stock control of drugs and reduce errors.
Karen Kelsey, senior clinical matron for emergency care at the trust, has discussed how the introduction of innovative technology has improved medication management.
She said: “Effective management of medication in emergency care is paramount. We need to get the right drug to the right patient, on time, every time.
“Managing stock levels is key to that, and yet traditional old-fashioned drug cupboards – which can result in delays in getting medication and missed doses – are still being used in many hospitals.
“Without doubt, nurses and frontline staff are stretched and working under increasing pressure in the NHS.
“At the same time, significant numbers of patients are being prescribed complex medication regimes. In North Tees alone, we manage as many as 441 lines on one ward.
“Since installing the system, the trust has had a stock reduction of £2,800 – or 10%. We also know that further reductions could be possible when we review usage patterns too
We decided to look into automated medication technology systems with a view to replacing our old emergency ward drug cupboards.
“A significant amount of pharmacy time was being absorbed with the manual stocktakes required every couple of days, and nurses on the ward couldn’t always access the right medication needed for patients, resulting in vital treatment delays.
“It was a big frustration for us as nurses as it impacted on patient care delivery.
“These unnecessary delays in accessing medication can have a long-term impact on a patient’s recovery and it affects the very heart of our promise to deliver effective care to all.
“Omnicell’s automated medication dispensing cabinets were the stand-out solution for the hospital as they were easy to implement, allowed frontline staff to clearly see the medication they needed, and ensured that it was stored safety and securely.
“Since installing the system, the trust has had a stock reduction of £2,800 – or 10%. We also know that further reductions could be possible when we review usage patterns too.
“In addition, the expiry date reports help pharmacy to see which stock is due to go out of date, allowing them to move medication around the hospital – so it all gets used instead of wasted. This means there is now very little stock expiry on the wards.
“”Keys were another major issue.
Authorised staff were responsible for the drug cupboard keys and nurses wasted endless time searching for the people who had hold of the keys.
“Unsurprisingly, we even had times when nurses accidentally took the drug cupboard keys home after a busy and stressful shift.
“The new cabinets are keyless, with nurses gaining access via their unique fingerprint.
“Once logged in, they are then directed to the medication they need for patients via a guiding light system. This is helping to eliminate the risk of medication errors and, as a result, is improving patient safety.
“Such is the success of the initial project, the trust has now rolled out Omnicell across the hospital in different locations. We have 56 cells on various wards.
“North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust is one of six pilot sites for Scan 4 Safety across the UK. We are in the process of implementing our GS1 strategy, using Omnicell as a leading partner in our plan.
“The new approach to medication management and stock rotation ensures we always have immediate access to vital drugs, which help patients recover quicker and speeds up discharge times.
“Put simply, it’s now easier for staff to do their job effectively with regards to medication management and administration and we have more time to care for patients.
“We don’t find out-of-date items anymore and we don’t run out of things.
“The time taken to get medications is much quicker and we can always get the medication we need when we need it.
“That makes it much safer for staff and patients and it instils confidence in our nurses.
“The new approach to medication management and stock rotation ensures we always have immediate access to vital drugs, which help patients recover quicker and speeds up discharge times.”