By: Christian de la Rosa
Posted: Thursday, October 25, 2012
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ESCONDIDO, Calif. -- A robot may be the answer to avoiding another meningitis outbreak.
Since the outbreak at a New England pharmacy compound, medical officials across the country have been trying to find ways to avoid being affected by a future mishap.
Cedric Terrell, Director of Pharmaceuticals at the recently opened Palomar Medical Center in Escondido, explained how they are testing their newest piece of equipment called the RIVA robot.
“It weighs out the products, it does its own infra-red testing,” said Terrell.
The RIVA robot uses a mechanical arm to mix and produce medications, without human contact, thus dramatically reducing the risk of contamination.
“When you look at hospitals today and their pharmaceutical budgets, about 4 to 6 percent of that is invested in outsourcing or buying from another vendor,” said Terrell.
Most hospitals and medical centers depend on vendors and compounds for certain medication supplies.
Medical officials say a million dollar piece of equipment like the RIVA robot could help them produce their own.
“With the robot we slowly cease from depending on these sources and we avoid risks,” said Terrell.
Since August, the RIVA robot has produced nearly a quarter of injectable medication nurses and doctors will use on patients at PMC.
Terrell said the goal is to one day be fully self-sufficient.
“Investing in technology makes that possible,” said Terrell.
Officials at Palomar say they are only one of two hospitals with this type of equipment in San Diego County and one of only a handful in the country.