Research demonstrates bacterial contamination in pharmacy robots

Drug dispensing robots designed to quickly prepare intravenous medications in a sterile environment can harbor dangerous bacteria, according to a report in Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology, the journal of the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America.

During a in 2010, personnel at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in North Carolina discovered Bacillus cereus bacteria in samples dispensed by their machine, the Intellifill IV. "To our knowledge, this is the first published report of a pharmacy robot being contaminated with Bacillus with resultant contamination of product," the report's authors write.

Bacillus is a potentially harmful bacterium that is resistant to many commonly used , including alcohol.

Personnel discovered the contamination through quality assurance measures recommended by the manufacturer before any patients were harmed by the contaminated drugs. The implications of contaminated intravenous products can be serious, including potentially life-threatening . While any adverse events were avoided, the investigation into how the machine became contaminated suggests that the current cleaning and maintenance recommendations may need to be strengthened.

The investigators traced the contamination to the machine's washing station and the tubing associated with it. Because this area is not considered a sterile part of the robot, the manufacturer does not specify a cleaning procedure for these parts beyond regular "fogging" with alcohol, using a spray bottle to clean inaccessible parts.

"To prevent other users of Intellifill IV from experiencing the same problem, the manufacturer should consider establishing a formal procedure for cleaning and maintaining the washing station, with more detailed recommendations to change the drain tube, the container, and possibly the washing station itself," the authors write. "In addition, it is reasonable to expand existing quality assurance recommendations to include surface testing of the washing station and air sampling in the center of the compartment. Last, using the robot in the pharmacy's clean room could further decrease the risk of contamination."

The findings stress the importance of routine screening of medication prepared by robotic dispensers, which are increasingly used in hospitals. "Quality assurance methods are critical to ensure ongoing patient safety," the authors write.

More information: David Cluck, John C. Williamson, Marty Glasgo, Daniel Diekema, Robert Sherertz, "Bacterial Contamination of an Automated Pharmacy Robot Used for Intravenous Medication Preparation." Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology 33:5 (May 2012).

Provided by Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Washing with contaminated soap increases bacteria on hands

May 02, 2011

People who wash their hands with contaminated soap from bulk-soap-refillable dispensers can increase the number of disease-causing microbes on their hands and may play a role in transmission of bacteria in public settings ...

Hospital bacteria outbreak linked to nasal spray

Jul 21, 2011

Infection control researchers investigating a rare bacterial outbreak of Burholderia cepacia complex (Bcc) identified contaminated nasal spray as the root cause of the infections, leading to a national recall of the produc ...

Recommended for you

Senegal monitors contacts of 1st Ebola patient

8 hours ago

Senegalese authorities on Monday were monitoring everyone who was in contact with a student infected with Ebola who crossed into the country, and who has lost three family members to the disease.

Cerebral palsy may be hereditary

14 hours ago

Cerebral palsy is a neurological developmental disorder which follows an injury to the immature brain before, during or after birth. The resulting condition affects the child's ability to move and in some ...

19 new dengue cases in Japan, linked to Tokyo park

20 hours ago

Japan is urging local authorities to be on the lookout for further outbreaks of dengue fever, after confirming another 19 cases that were contracted at a popular local park in downtown Tokyo.

User comments