Tech Talk: Troubleshooting Med Delivery

Delivering medications to patient care units is a critical function for pharmacy technicians. You can think of it as “crossing the pharmacy finish line,” since all the prep work has been done (e.g., procurement, compounding, dispensing, labeling) and delivery is the final step. Med delivery can be nuanced at times due to varying med storage requirements and delivery locations on the units (e.g., automated dispensing cabinets, refrigerator, patient-specific bins, etc) or due to urgent need for med (STAT dose). Plus, hospitals can vary in terms of how and where meds are delivered to patient care units. For example, some pharmacies may send all first doses by pneumatic tube, where others will only use the tube system for STAT doses.

Use this tool to talk with your pharmacy colleagues about issues that come up with regard to med delivery. These discussions can help bring out any problems as well as potential solutions. Share the information with your medication safety officer, or manager or supervisor.


Your Feedback

What’s your practice setting?

Primary work area(s):

Primary duties:


In what situations do you deliver medications to patient care units? To which patient care units do you routinely deliver medications?

For example: You may make hourly deliveries to patient care units such as to a medicine floor, oncology floor, or intensive care unit. Or, you may restock medications for operating rooms during your shift.

What policies or procedures impact med delivery?

For example: You may deliver meds hourly to patient care units, with exceptions for meds that are needed more urgently; certain meds may need to be placed in the refrigerator on patient care units; or meds may need to be delivered to a different unit than the one the patient is usually on, such as to dialysis or to a procedure area.

What other steps do you take to prevent snags when delivering?

For example: If you send a med by pneumatic tube, you call the patient care unit to tell them it’s on the way. Or, if you deliver a dose reordered in your computer system, you send the nurse a message to let them know when to expect it.

Have you recently seen any issues with med delivery?

For example: You may get reorders for a med, such as flu vaccine, and find it was on the patient care unit, but in a location other than what nurses expect, such as a patient bin rather than the refrigerator. Or, meds may not be ready at the time you’re supposed to leave the pharmacy for your delivery.

If you had an issue with med delivery, how did you address it? Were policies and procedures being followed or skipped?

For example: If flu vaccine was placed in patient bins rather than in the fridge, were “refrigerate” labels used as a reminder of the correct place to put it? Or if a controlled med came up short for restocking automated dispensing cabinets, was it secure during your delivery?

How could potential issues with delivery have been avoided in your examples, or in other scenarios where similar issues have occurred?

What additional comments, feedback, or thoughts do you have on this important topic?

[February 2020; 360224]

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