Robotic pharmacist mixing chemo drugs at US hospital

Colorado hospital will be the first in the US to use the robot

The University of Colorado Hospital is about to start using a robot to mix chemotherapy drugs for patients, which its developers say will eliminate human error and protect technicians from potentially dangerous drugs.

This is the first time the chemotherapy compounding robot will be used in the United States, according to Shawn Riley, vice president of Primus Innovations, which is collaborating with robot developer Health Robotics to distribute the technology. He noted that the technology is being used in Europe.

"The robot eliminates calculation errors," said Nancy Stolpman, director of pharmacy at the University of Colorado Hospital in Denver, which administers chemo to 80 to 100 patients a day. "[Mistakes] happen. Pharmacists and technicians are no different than any other human. They make errors. Just one decimal point [off in calculation] can be a 10-fold overdose for a patient. It can be very dangerous," she said.

And Stolpman, whose organization is set to begin using the robot this month, said she's quite confident that the stationary machine can accurately read the orders for the chemo, which often are a mixture of several different drugs. The machine uses its robotic arm to mix the compounds and deposit them in IV bags, vials or syringes. The robot then drops any articles, like used vials and syringes that are no longer needed or contaminated, into a waste container, so technicians never touch them. The machine even alerts someone when the waste container is nearing full and then closes and seals it.

Riley said the robot, which is called CytoCare, is a third-generation machine that was approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration at the end of 2006. About 50 CytoCare robots have been sold worldwide to date, he said.

Stolpman said they've been testing the robot and have really run it through its paces. "We've tried to get it to make something wrong and we can't trick it," she added. "It adds several safety checks."

She explained that the machine weighs the drugs before and after they're mixed to confirm the dosage, and it checks bar codes on the drug packaging to make sure it has the right drug. To double check that, the machine places the drug on a platform and rotates it 360 degrees, taking images of the drug and comparing them to images stored in its database. "It knows what it should look like and it will reject it if it doesn't match," said Stolpman. "I think we definitely need the extra safety checks."

And that added layer of safety also goes for the technicians and pharmacists, who normally mix up the chemo compounds. If the drugs come in contact with skin, they can cause burns, and there can be serious health risks for people handling these medications over the long-term.

"Chemo is biohazardous," said Stolpman. "You don't want to come in contact with it. You don't want a spill. You don't want it touching your skin because it could cause pretty hefty burns. It's made to kill bad cells but it sometimes doesn't know the difference."

Riley said the Baylor Health System which in Dallas and Forth Worth area, also bought the robot and are about two weeks behind the University of Colorado Hospital in deploying it.

Join the newsletter!

Or
Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Sharon Gaudin

Computerworld
Show Comments

Essentials

James Cook University - Master of Data Science Online Course

Learn more >

Mobile

Sansai 6-Outlet Power Board + 4-Port USB Charging Station

Learn more >

Exec

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?