Unit-dose Packaging - It is the process of packaging and identifying the medications to be administered to the patient in a personalized and safe manner.
It is usually performed at the Hospital Pharmacy, in the Storage Sector or at the Hospital Unit-Dose Packaging Center, always under the responsibility of the Hospital Pharmacy.
The medications are placed in unitary packages, organized according to the administration schedule and identified for each patient in medication carts, or other safe means of transport and always according to the patient’s medical prescription.
But what are the benefits of Unit-dose Packaging?
Improving medication control at the Central Hospital Pharmacy and differentiating packages.
The centralization of control allows for a reduction of up to 57% of adverse events (according to studies carried out in Germany and the USA), optimizes the work of the nursing staff in preparing the administration of doses and generates less waste.
Unit-dose packaging involves the processes of: cutting the blister, packaging and printing the medication package or the ampoules or just labeling the ampoules.
What is the effective result?
Identification of the drug until the time of its administration,
Reducing the frequency of errors in drug administration.
Reduction of time spent by the nursing staff on activities related to medications;
Decreased inventories in the assistance units, with consequent reduction of losses;
Optimization of the return process;
Exact billing for the consumption of medications used by each patient;
Assistance in the control of hospital-acquired infection due to hygiene and organization in the preparation of doses;
Great adaptability to automated and computerized systems;
Greater safety for the physician in relation to the fulfillment of the prescriptions;
Effective participation of the pharmacist in the pharmaceutical assistance;
Improved control over the standard and working hours developed by nursing and pharmacy personnel;
Summing up, the unit-dose packaging provides Safety to the Patient and the Hospital with cost reduction, as it brings the 5 Rights:
– Right patient
– Right medication
– Right route
– Right time
– Right dosage
How does it work?
Unit-dose packaging consists of packing the medications in a unitary form in the blister without removing it from the factory packaging. This cut can be done manually or by machines.
After cutting, the medication is placed in a package to be sealed and labeled individually.
The packaging can be manual, or made by semi-automatic or automatic machines.
In order to streamline the dispensing process, medications and ampoules can be unitized as soon as they arrive at the Hospital's stock, thereby facilitating the work of the Hospital Pharmacy, and reducing stress and errors of the sector’s employees.
Where did it all begin?
This process started to be disseminated around the world in 1965, and it is now the main worldwide trend in Hospitals.
Its application is not yet widespread in all countries.
Some countries in Europe still send their medications to patients in their original boxes.
In the United States, unit-dose packaging is part of drug dispensing, as medications are received in hospital packages, in bottles with 500 to 1000 units, the medications are packed without blister.
At the end of the 1950s, with the increase in the use of more potent drugs, but which also caused serious side effects, the publication of studies on the incidence of medication errors in hospitals began.
In the 1960s, hospital pharmacists introduced a new system: the Unit Dose, capable of reducing the incidence of medication errors, the cost of medications, losses and deviations, and of optimizing the time of the professionals involved, improving the assistance level offered to hospitalized patients.
Unit-dose packaging is differentiation
Ampoules and blisters received from laboratories in Hospitals do not have the required differentiation to be used within the hospital.
In general, incidents from the recent past influence the packaging differentiation criteria, such as colors and auxiliary icons to avoid errors.
It is important to use the unique barcodes of the Hospital where a serial code is added to each package or a different identification code that can be individually tracked, from the beginning to the end of use and associated with a specific patient, so that all the process can be properly controlled.
Managing medications and health products in stock to be delivered to patients.
Greater safety through the automatic method of controlling medication stocks, in addition to benefits of administrative and financial efficiency in the control and renewal of medications and supplies, avoiding the immobilization of financial resources to the maintenance of a large stock and excessive expenditure of time in carrying out inventories and other tasks related to the stock control.
With the tracking of medications, there is guarantee of a safe origin, correct handling, adequate storage and the right channels for dispensing products. In addition, the system will also be able to support actions aimed at promoting the rational use of medications. Moreover, the system will be an important tool to monitor and prevent possible misuse of health products.
Traceability made by the serialized barcodes of products, from their entry to the patient or cost center, ensuring the quality and safety of the process.
The Electronic prescription is a tool that greatly helps institutions, as it eliminates potential problems with illegible handwriting. Additionally, items to be prescribed such as drugs, materials, diets, and exams also use this functionality.
Bedside checking is a proposed solution for dispensing and administering medications, being one of the most critical and error-sensitive steps to bringing safety to patients.
In this process, the nursing team reads the barcode of the drug dispensed by the pharmacy, confirming the administration of the drug by crossing information when reading the barcode on the patient’s wristband. In the absence of barcodes on the product packaging, this process becomes unviable.
Electronic checking allows the right patient, the right medication, the right dose, the right time, the right record (documentation), the right to refuse and the right justification.
The use of the barcode is an effective method of safety in the administration of medications.
Automation is a growing reality in Brazil. There is also the possibility to optimize the delivery of medications and supplies to different floors through the Electronic Dispensers, which are capable of meeting 100% of medical prescriptions, or act according to the institution’s routine in support of the unit dose system, replacing the hospitalization unit’s stock for dispensing doses, in addition to controlled and emergency medications, and items prescribed as required.
“The more electronic we get, the better”
- Automation and Integration of processes and areas;
- Traceability of actions;
- Evocation of success;
- Information agility;
- Dispensing agility
- Provides “smart” decision making.
Below are some of them from unit-dose packaging systems:
- Uniflag - for ampoules and vials:
- It “re-labels”, by applying labels previously configured through an easy, agile and scalable process. It can be returned to the original packaging or used in a single kit.
- Cob BT-60 Automated Blister Cutter:
- Maximizes productivity when packaging tablets in unit-doses, by “cutting” different types of blisters - up to 2,100 blisters per hour;
- Fully controlled via software, without the need for a physical setup.
- Total Pack BT-50:
- Reduction of working time in the packaging, automatic and individual sealing and labeling of ampoules, vials, tablets and kits for the pharmacy;
- High productivity, up to 2,600 units/hour, thus generating profitability.
- BT-30 Compact Unit-Dose Packaging System
- A compact and versatile equipment for the unit-dose packaging of tablets, pills, capsules, ampoules and vials;
- Allows for clear and objective identification of basic drug information, thus ensuring greater traceability in the unit-dose packaging process;