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Published on January 28, 2013

Mercy launches first-in-nation pharmaceutical oncology robot

i.v.STATION ONCOThe Hall-Perrine Cancer Center at Mercy Medical Center in Cedar Rapids has installed the nation's first i.v.STATION ONCO (i.v. oncology robot from Health Robotics) technology for compounding and dispensing injectable chemotherapy medications. Among the major benefits of this chemo-specific technology is that it reduces medical errors, decreases waste and allows for more cost-effective care for patients. (See the robot in action in this YouTube video.)

“We’re pleased that Mercy is the first to launch this advanced technology in the U.S.,” said Desmond Waters, Pharmacy Director at Mercy. “The oncology robot is yet another example of Mercy leading the way with world-class cancer care. We provide 11,000 i.v. chemotherapy preparations each year, so the benefits of having this precise, state-of-the-art equipment for our patients will be far-reaching.”

The i.v.STATION ONCO robot is highly recommended in many European countries because of its benefits to patients and staff. Following Mercy’s lead, several other world-renowned U.S. medical institutions, such as Brigham & Women's Hospital in Boston, will be installing the pharmaceutical robot as well.

This technology removes the element of human error in mixing chemo drugs and allows for precise mixtures, which increases patient safety. Care providers at the Hall-Perrine Cancer Center will be able to remotely and automatically observe, manage, audit, approve and dispense injectable medications without unnecessary exposure to the drugs. If needed, pharmacy staff can supervise and dispense i.v. medications from locations outside the pharmacy via secure intranet access.

According to Health Robotics, the manufacturer of the i.v.STATION ONCO, the technology has no recorded medical errors within the organizations that use it. Multiple automated checks throughout the process guarantee that the right drug in the right dose is compounded at the right time – with the right label for the right patient. In addition, accuracy of doses and concentration is ensured by volumetric and gravimetric controls, thus ruling out the risks of large drug-quantity errors.

The robot also helps eliminate the need to rely on costly outsourced medications or pre-mixed solutions and reduces the waste of expired and returned medications.

In addition to the new oncology robot at the Hall-Perrine Cancer Center, Mercy has the only inpatient pharmacy i.v.STATION robot in Iowa. It was installed in March 2009, making the Mercy Pharmacy one of few nationally to be fully integrated with a robotic high-volume automated storage and dispensing system, automated medication storage carousel, a high-speed, bar-code packager and special software/hardware for redundancy and automation decision support. The automated pharmacy positioned Mercy for Bedside Medication Verification (BMV), a patient safety initiative, which began in June 2009.

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