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For the past five years, Geisinger Medical Center, located in Danville, Pa., has employed Tug battery-powered robots from a company called Aethon to deliver medicine to patient-care units. This took some of the workload off the shoulders of its nurses and pharmacy technicians. But certain controlled substances and high-value pharmaceuticals could not be trusted to the robots. Employees had to deliver them and manually record information regarding where they were moved to within the hospital, using pen and paper. But now that the drugs are fitted with passive RFID tags placed in an RFID-enabled version of the Tug known as MedEx, the robot can do the job.
With radio frequency identification-a technology that Aethon began building into some of its robots three years ago-the hospital can track which personnel loaded which robot with which medications, as well as who received them. Three of Geisinger's five robots have been equipped with the RFID system, which it began implementing in the fourth quarter of 2009. The other two robots carry hospital equipment, but no medication, so they require no RFID tracking.
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