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Robots Package Medications for Jails

In a 21st Century move designed to both save $1 million per year and improve the accuracy of drug dispensing in county jails, Contra Costa County, California has hired robots to replace pharmacists and nurses in the packaging and dispensing of medications to prisoners in three of its jails.

By leasing three SafetyPaks from Omnicell, Inc. for $5,000 per month, the county anticipates that the jail pharmacist can be dispensed with and eleven of its nurses weekly working hours trimmed from 40 to 32.

The machines are capable of both preparing pill doses as well as packaging them, adding bar code tracking which allows for ensuring that patients receive the medications while making a written record of all dispensations. In addition, the system will permit the county to maintain a single pharmacy for all of its needs, eliminating both separate storage/accounting as well as wasteful throwing away of unused medications when they expire. The SafetyPak concept is cost-effective even for Contra Costas Martinez jail, where only 100 out of 700 prisoners regularly take prescription medicines.

As an added benefit, the jail anticipates that its nurses time will now be more effectively spent on providing health care.

Source: Corrections Professional.

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