Sinai Hospital in Baltimore made a profound shift in their medication administration approach by moving the process directly to the patient bedside, with the goal of decreasing potential clinical errors. Like many other hospitals across the US, Sinai Hospital made this transition with an aim to improve patient safety, nursing efficiency, costs, and perhaps most importantly, patient satisfaction.

Installation – A Focus on Compliance and Existing Access Control Systems

The installation of single-patient, automated medication cabinets in each patient room resulted in pronounced improvement in efficiency of key operational and clinical processes.  Bonnie Hartley Faust, Director of Patient Care Services at Sinai Hospital, noticed an immediate change.  “Having the patient’s medications right at the bedside has not only improved efficiency, but it has afforded us an added level of medication safety”, said Faust.

Each medication cabinet is IP network enabled, and interacts directly with existing credentialing systems to ensure HIPAA compliant medication storage, and also has eliminated the need for nurses to make repeated trips to a centralized medication storage point.  According to Faust, “The nurse is better able to ensure that the correct meds are dispensed to the correct patient at the correct time.  This added security has made the cabinets quite successful with our patients as well.”

The medication cabinets utilize the ISONAS Security Systems IP PowerNet reader-controller to provide clinicians access privileges for each of the cabinets. To access a cabinet, a clinician simply passes their employee identification card in front of the cabinet’s reader and the door opens automatically. Once the patient’s medications are removed, the cabinet door automatically closes and locks.

Faust notes, “In the past, we were challenged with issues like medication cart doors that could be left open or batteries that died leaving the carts without an automatic locking function. Our new process is much more reliable. When the nurse walks away from the cabinet, the medications are immediately safe and secure. It’s a very good feeling.”

Each cabinet can be individually assigned access privileges for that location with almost infinite variability. For instance, a group of nurses on a particular floor can be allowed access to specific cabinets on that floor, only during the shifts for which they are scheduled.

Additionally, pharmacy personnel who stock the cabinets can be assigned access at pre-defined time periods if desired. Since the more than 400 cabinets at Sinai Hospital are managed on a single server in the hospital’s existing computer network, administration of access privileges for the more than 1,000 staff members who need medication cabinet access, can be granted in minutes.

“I have seen estimates of the median compensation award for a medication error at over $600,000 per incident. That being the case, our project’s payback period could conceivably be measured in months, not years.”
—Bonnie Hartley Faust, MS, MBA, RN, Director of Patient Care Services for Sinai Hospital

Point of Care Access Control Improves Care at Sinai Hospital
The implementation of the in-room cabinets was completed by Sinai’s own Capital Improvements, Facilities and Information Services staff, under the direction and supervision of Bonnie Faust as project leader. During the deployment of the cabinet system, there was minimal disruption of ongoing hospital operations as all cabinets interfaced with the access control infrastructure already available throughout the organization. This installation has resulted in improved clinical workflows, safer patient care, and increased patient-physician interactions – translating to value beyond the balance sheet.

About Carstens
Founded more than 125 years ago, Carstens pioneered putting patient information and medication dispensing at the point of care with customized records systems and workstations. As the healthcare industry evolves, Carstens continues to expand its line of electronic health record (EHR) support products, offering innovative solutions for paper-based record keeping as well as the integration of electronic solutions at the patient bedside. With all products manufactured in the US, Carstens’ products are designed to enhance communication and increase interaction between clinicians and patients at the point of care.

Contact: (800) 782-1524 or