What’s inside:

In the past OR staff had to go to the Pharmacy for the controlled drugs and narcotics used in surgery – but now Pharmacy has arrived in OR.

This blog looks at:

  • The increasingly common desire for a decentralized pharmacy
  • The location of automated dispensing cabinets
  • The mistake many are making when it comes to narcotics cabinet placement

Smart narcotics cabinets are increasingly being used in hospital and ambulatory care settings. They provide decentralized dispensing at the point of care, while tight management and control is still retained centrally, by the pharmacy.

This set up works really well, however, we recently realized that perhaps the drive to locate smart narcotics cabinets at the point of patient care may have gone a step too far.

We’re not sure why, but over the years it’s become the norm for narcotics cabinets to be installed into the very heart of the hospital – the operating room.

With space at such a premium, we’re wondering why.

Warning: contentious opinion ahead!

Narcotics cabinets belong in the core area and not inside OR and procedure rooms!

There. We’ve said it.

So, let’s look at why.

Secured narcotics storage
Narcotics cabinet

The whole point of automated narcotics cabinets is that they make the dispensing and management of controlled drugs and narcotics easier.

By having multiple smart cabinets in different surgical rooms, this actually makes the management of the narcotics a more complex task.

Wouldn’t it just be simpler to locate the automated dispensing cabinet in the OR core area – providing an ‘OR pharmacy station’ that services all the ORs?

Narcotics is a central resource and does not require placement inside the OR.

In fact, there are several benefits to storing the narcotics cabinet in central core.

  • SECURITY: Having the dispensing cabinet in a central area adds another layer of protection to deter drugs diversion.
  • SPACE: Operating rooms are crammed full of equipment and with space at such a premium, why add a bulky item that would work just as well if it were located outside of each room?
  • COST: There’s simply no justification in purchasing so many units when a single unit located in the core area would suffice
  • ACCESS BY PHARMACY: Restocking items and handling returns needs to be carried out by Pharmacy when each room is free. Having multiple cabinets to manage makes the task more onerous, as each individual machine needs to be accessed and serviced.


If you are looking for an automated dispensing solution for your hospital or ambulatory care center, don’t be duped into purchasing so many units.

One automated dispensing cabinet in the core area is honestly all that you need to operate decentralized dispensing in an efficient manner.


Hospital Pharmacy Narcotics Cabinets


Find out more about our secure Narcotics Cabinet with advanced single cell dispensing and full tracking of both items and users.

Contact us for a demo.






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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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