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High-Tech Device Cuts Errors in Mixing Meds

Uses 'light' fingerprint to check compounds blended at hospital pharmacy

FRIDAY, Jan. 11, 2008 (HealthDay News) -- A tabletop device proved flawless in identifying the proper formulations of seven intravenous drugs, and helped avert five potentially serious medication errors during an 18-month test.

Results of the tests, conducted at C.S. Mott Children's Hospital in the University of Michigan (U-M) Health System, were published in the Jan. 1 issue of the American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy.

The device uses enhanced photoemission spectroscopy to determine if certain drug compounds are correct. Light focused on a compound excites molecules so they emit energy, which is then measured by a spectrometer. Since each drug compound has its own "light" fingerprint, the spectrometer results can be compared for accuracy.

The device is made by ValiMed, a division of CDEX Inc., based in Tucson, Ariz.

C.S. Mott is the first hospital in the world to use this device to test patients drugs compounded in the hospital pharmacy, said Jim Stevenson, associate dean of clinical sciences at the U-M College of Pharmacy and director of pharmacy services at the U-M Health System.

"Errors in compounding these types of medications are rare. We know from having this technology in place we've deterred five errors that might have happened. I really believe having technology like this needs to be the standard around the country," Stevenson said in a prepared statement.

More information

The U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality offers patient advice on how to help prevent medical errors.

SOURCE: University of Michigan Health System, news release, Jan. 3, 2008
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