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Patient safety

New medication management system proves itself

GUELPH, Ont. – Guelph General Hospital has announced the results of a study demonstrating the benefits of its Omnicell medication management system. Omnicell, Inc., of Mountain View, Calif., is a leading provider of solutions to acute healthcare facilities.

With donations from the Partners for Better Health campaign, Guelph General Hospital installed Omnicell’s Medication Specific Dispensing Systems to replace an existing manual, traditional mosaic drug distribution process. A comparative analysis was conducted prior to, and after, the Omnicell system implementation to identify patient care and staff efficiency improvements in the medication distribution system.

“Our comparative analysis demonstrated that the Omnicell systems substantially improved the quality and efficiency of our drug distribution process,” said Jane Martin, director of Pharmacy Services, Guelph General Hospital. “These improvements translate into less nurse and pharmacist time devoted to drug distribution, more time for direct patient care and less risk of medication errors for patients.”

Three-month study periods were analyzed prior to, and after the Omnicell implementation. There were 90 medication incidents reported pre-Omnicell implementation. Post-Omnicell implementation, this number decreased by 26.7% to 66 medication incidents reported. Of the incidents reported, pharmacy dispensing errors and errors where the nurses selected the incorrect medication due to look-alike, sound-alike names both decreased 60.0%.

Since approximately 98% of medications are now available on the Guelph General Hospital patient care units, medications are more quickly available for administration, reducing delays in patient care. Using a time-in-motion study, the time elapsed from the order written to the medication available on a nursing unit decreased 84% on average, from 263 minutes to 42 minutes, after the Omnicell implementation.

Nursing time needed to track down missing doses of medications, often through communications with a central pharmacy, was also reduced substantially. The telephone call volume to the central pharmacy decreased from 71 calls per day pre-Omnicell to 16.5 per day after Omnicell implementation, a 76.7% reduction.

Of these phone calls, missing meds calls were reduced by 66.7% per day and out-of-stock medication calls were reduced by 70% per day. Likewise, the average number of communication forms needed was reduced by 90.7% per day. The Omnicell systems consolidate medication storage, and missing medication forms decreased by 95.5% and out of stock forms decreased by 89.7% per day.

Nursing time needed to access narcotic and controlled substances also decreased substantially post-Omnicell implementation due to the elimination of many manual steps, including documentation. Pre-Omnicell, the average narcotic and controlled substance transaction took 183 seconds. This decreased 85.2% post-Omnicell to 27 seconds.

“The pharmacy staff at Guelph General Hospital is to be applauded for the remarkable post-Omnicell implementation results,” said Ed Albrough, senior product manager at Omnicell. “Omnicell technology helps hospital staff reduce medication errors by reducing complexity, avoiding over-reliance on memory, simplifying key processes, and increasing efficiency. The less time required for nurses to wait for and to obtain medications translates into additional time to provide patient care.”

About Omnicell
Omnicell, Inc. is a leading provider of systems targeting patient safety and operational efficiency in healthcare facilities. Since 1992, Omnicell has worked to enhance patient safety and allow clinicians to spend more time with their patients.
Omnicell’s medication-use product line includes solutions for the central pharmacy, nursing unit, operating room, and patient bedside. Solutions range from complete automation systems for the central pharmacy to nursing unit and bedside dispensing cabinet systems. From the point at which a medication arrives at the receiving dock to the time it is administered, Omnicell systems store it, package it, bar code it, order it, issue it, and provide information and controls on its use and reorder. For more information,visit

About Guelph General Hospital
Guelph General Hospital is a comprehensive acute-care facility providing a full range of services to the residents of Guelph and Wellington County in Ontario. Its services include 24-hour emergency coverage, advanced technology and diagnostic support, and specialty programs such as surgery, orthopedics, cardiac care, obstetrics, gynecology and pediatrics. For more information, visit