Traditionally the dispensing of narcotics and controlled substances has been pharmacist-lead and firmly in the domain of the on-site pharmacy.  This involved multiple pre-surgery visits by clinical staff to collect supplies, workflows that ate up time and patience plus plenty of room for error. 

With the introduction of automated drug dispensing systems, clinicians have been able to play a more active part in the dispensing process. In fact, in recent years some hospitals have found real benefits in relocating automated dispensing cabinets into the surgery setting.

Accurate tracking of physician dispensing at the point of care

Table top narcotics cabinet
Tabletop narcotics cabinet

Placing automated narcotics dispensing cabinets in OR and procedural areas provides physicians, anesthetists/anesthesiologists, and nursing staff with more autonomy and instant access to drugs during surgery.

In most hospitals keeping track of controlled substances in the perioperative setting has been a real challenge. The frantic nature of surgery, changing patient needs, and ‘on the spot’ decisions made by clinicians all mean that drugs can be issued but not used, or usage may exceed initial expectations. There may be back-to-back surgeries and at the end of the day, the physician will have had to track which patient received which drugs and in what quantities, as well as deal with unused stock, partially used stock, or faulty/expired stock – all of which will need to be checked, authorized, returned and recorded.

In the real world, it can be difficult and time-consuming to log accurate usage and manage drug surplus returns plus destruction documentation. It is a necessary task though, in order to comply with strict drug control regulations and support effective inventory management. Automated dispensing cabinets provide in-built tracking and a simple returns process that make these tasks much easier and ensure integration with the EHR so that all data is recorded at the patient level.





The benefits of Automated Dispensing Cabinets in OR and Procedure Rooms

Having automated dispensing cabinets within handy reach of patients boosts the efficiency of perioperative staff due to:

  • Having medication storage on hand, at the point of care
  • Clinician lead – prevents communication/prescribing errors
  • Quick and easy removal and return of drugs from the dispensing cabinet
  • Expired and recalled items are flagged at the point of issue to warn against usage
  • automatic tracking of drugs issued to each patient
  • Exemptions logged and recorded
  • compliance with drug control regulations
  • Enhanced security access prevents supply loss and drug diversion

Decentralizing the dispensing function brings greater efficiency into the dispensing of drugs and controlled substances used during surgery. Local, point-of-use dispensing improves patient safety, protects clinical staff, and supports effective supply chain management.


The ideal combination – clinician lead but managed by pharmacists

There is strong feedback from hospitals using dispensing cabinets in the surgery setting, that use of automated dispensing technology makes accurate dispensing a simpler, easier task.

The dynamic between clinicians and pharmacists can only improve with devolved dispensing responsibility facilitated by automatic dispensing cabinets. The pharmacist has full view of real-time data and an accurate understanding of usage, removing the cause of prior disputes as there is now transparency and visibility for all parties.

With the transition of the dispensing function to the perioperative setting, the role of the pharmacist is more focused on overseeing and managing the controlled drugs inventory – dealing with all returns, restocking and reordering.

Hospital Pharmacy Narcotics Cabinets
Hospital Narcotics Cabinets

Organizational Benefits of Automated Medication Dispensing

There is an organizational ‘knock-on effect’ to the introduction of smart dispensing cabinets into OR and Procedure Rooms. Point-of-care dispensing technology provides inbuilt safeguards within inventory workflows, which lower the level of risk for the organization, for clinicians, and, of course, for patients.

Dispensing cabinets are also a great management tool, they provide reports and data analytics on drug supplies and usage, which result in insights to support better budgeting and inventory control.

Interoperability assures full integration with ERP and EHR, meaning that there is full regulatory compliance and that data is shared with the hospital administration system to ensure the continued flow of the supply chain.


IDENTI Medical Narcotics Cabinet – specially designed for use in perioperative settings

IDENTI Medical has designed a user-friendly narcotics cabinet designed with clinicians in mind and provides a quick and easy way to administer controlled substances and narcotics at the point of use.


IDENTI’s secure drug cabinet uses AI inventory management software and fully interfaces with patient files.

This automated narcotics cabinet has been designed especially for use in OR and Procedure Room settings.

This makes it perfect for physician dispensing – quick, accurate, easy, and efficient.

It is the best inventory management system to support decentralized dispensing – enabling clinicians to lead and pharmacists to manage dispensing in the surgical setting.





Automated, Weight Based PAR Bin

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About the author

Or is the Head of Marketing and Strategic Partnerships. She has a wealth of experience in the health–tech sector. Her innovative marketing strategies have successfully driven IDENTI’s growth in multiple worldwide markets. Her strength is the ability to identify what truly resonates within the industry. She is passionate about building relationships and her expertise lies in creating meaningful partnerships with healthcare providers, distributors, and suppliers..
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