We are very lucky to live in a time when modern medicine can treat just about any illness or ailment. But when a patient is given the wrong medication, the results can be downright dangerous.

Unfortunately, medication errors are far too common in Portland and the rest of the nation. For that reason, some hospitals are beginning to depend on technology to help prevent medication mix-ups, which are often caused by human error.

The new technology uses a robot to select, sort and dispense drugs instead of relying on a pharmacist or technician to do the work. The robot also double-checks the medication and dosage to reduce the likelihood of a patient getting the wrong drugs or the wrong amount.

To a person, two medications with similar names could be easily confused, but the robot has an easier time recognizing a difference. The robot also doesn't become bored with the monotony of filling prescription orders like human workers often do.

A bar-coding system is also used to help prevent one patient from getting another patient's prescription. Additionally, the robot can be operated by pharmacists from an off-site location by using an automated system.

Of course, the cutting-edge technology comes at a price, with the robots costing around $1.5 million.

A spokesman from a hospital that purchased one of the robots said that the technology can also help to uncover how and why medication errors occur as it will be able to document errors or near errors that are made.

Hopefully all hospitals will soon be able afford this important technology so that fewer people suffer as a result of medication errors.

Source: Times Ledger, "NYHQ welcomes robot to sort medication for hospital’s patients," Alex Robinson, Dec. 27, 2013