High-tech systems at Medical Arts Pharmacy Enhance Safety by Mary Anne Pankhurst

Josée Lemay with individual insulin dosages.

CFN – Medication errors.  They’re serious, can be injurious, life threatening, and happen anywhere: in hospital, in longterm care or the privacy of our own homes.  And they’re precisely why Medical Arts Pharmacy continues to invest in technology.  For as pharmacist Harry Haramis says:

“Safety is the lightning rod for our efforts.”

But if you’re like me and don’t work in healthcare or take or administer drugs to another person, you might be thinking:  What does Harry mean, exactly, and how does technology help?

To begin, consider barcodes and scanners.  These technologies touch our lives daily.  But we don’t necessarily associate them with medication.

In 2010, Medical Arts was the first – and remains the only pharmacy in Cornwall – to bring barcodes to the bedside.  In fact, the nurses at St. Joseph’s Continuing Care on York Street in Cornwall are the only local nurses to enjoy the ease and security that barcodes offer.


“We have to acknowledge that human error is the root cause of medication error,” Haramis says,


Harry Haramis of Medical Arts Pharmacy

“so anything we can do to better serve the professionals who are responsible for administering medication is a top priority for us as pharmacists. ”


In the past month, Medical Arts has also invested in technology that enhances safety “inside” the pharmacy.  Generally referred to as an automated checking machine, the system checks meds the pharmacy has packaged (for patients) and alerts the team to anything that requires intervention.

Boiled down, this means if for any reason something is questionable, the technology alerts the pharmacist at every step of the process.

Evidence-based data support the use of technology. A study recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine is the first large-scale test of a barcode system.  It corroborates Medical Arts’ own evidence that barcoding rises to the top of an array of possible technological options.

MaryAnne Pankhurst holds a degree in journalism/biology from Concordia University, Montreal.

Combined with her original education in nursing, her primary interests remain science, medicine, business and healthcare.


Leave a Reply