Use Medication Dispensing Machines

​When medications are stored on patient care units, it may be easy to select the wrong medication or dose. Staff members may also forget to record what they select or administer. Dispensing machines often have mechanisms to help prevent these errors — for example, the machine can require that a patient identification number be entered before a medication will be dispensed. Many dispensing machines can also interface with hospital computer systems to integrate their data with information from order entry systems and medication administration records. Dispensing machines can also issue alerts and ask whether an adverse drug event has occurred whenever the machine dispenses a common reversal agent or antidote.



  • Use the machine to dispense 85 to 90 percent of the medications used on a patient care unit.
  • Ensure that staff members can get emergency drugs quickly.
  • Provide mechanisms for administering medications to newly admitted patients whose identification numbers are not yet in the system.
  • Implement Clinical Data Categories (CDC) in the Pyxis machines. The feature can be set up to prompt the nurse removing the medication to consider if a patient has received another medication that may result in a drug interaction. For example, a nurse attempts to remove a vial of heparin from the Pyxis machine. A screen appears asking if the patient has received Lovenox within the last 12 hours. If yes, the nurse is instructed to call Pharmacy. If no, it will then let the nurse remove the drug. The application can also be used to ask the nurse to document the reason for removal of other drugs whose usage the institution is tracking. [Submitted by Julie Rock, Samaritan Hospital]


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