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Last Updated: Monday, 19 January, 2004, 07:52 GMT
New robot helps hospital
Robot at Addenbrooke's Hospital
The robot is the first of its kind in the eastern region
A new computerised robot which dispenses medicine within seconds has been unveiled at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge.

The machine - the first of its kind in the region - is speeding up work in the in-patient pharmacy and enabling patients to be discharged quicker.

The robot works in a similar way to a canned drinks machine and consists of two temperature-controlled cages that store stock which is loaded and retrieved by mechanical arms.

Once a prescription has been logged and checked on arrival in the pharmacy, dispensers order the medication and get the patient label from their computers.

The drugs are then picked and placed in a chute by the robot, arriving at the dispenser's counter within 30 seconds.

'Accurate dispensing'

Helen Howe, Addenbrooke's chief pharmacist, said: "Since we started using the robot in December, we have seen immediate benefits such as speedier dispensing time - the robot accurately gets what is required in less than 30 seconds - so patients can get their medicines and be discharged quicker.

"Accurate dispensing is obviously key to patient safety and automatic picking based on barcode recognition assures us of that.

"The robot also offers compact and efficient storage. This is benefiting us already, but will do so even more in the future as demands on our service increase.

"Eventually we will see automatic dispensing in response to electronic prescriptions."

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