Robot Transports Medications in Lee Memorial Hospital

A Futuristic Addition to Lee Memorial Hospital

It’s not shiny like R2D2 from “Star Wars”, nor does it hold conversations like HAl from “2001: A Space odyssey”, but Lee Memorial Hospital Pharmacy’s new robot, “TUG” is definitely a futuristic addition to Lee Memorial Hospital. The smart, autonomous robot helps deliver medications throughout the hospital. The Aethon robot system is mapped to the hospital and uses the facility’s wireless network to control elevators and doors. A scanning laser and 27 infrared and ultrasonic sensors detect and model the environment in real time in order to maintain accurate position and avoid obstacles. Once TUG completes the deliveries, it automatically returns to the charging dock in the Pharmacy.

Security is one of TUG’s main features; secure drawers are biometrically controlled, meaning both pharmacy employees loading the cart and nurses unloading the cart must use their fingerprint and identification number to open the drawers to retrieve the medications. Only the necessary and appropriate drawer opens for the nurse.

TUG is monitored remotely 24/7/365 by Aethon’s Pittsburgh-based support center. on-duty support staff at Lee Memorial Hospital is notified if there is an issue with TUG. Additionally, the Aethon support team can connect to TUG via the internet to assess the situation and control the robot remotely, if necessary.

Lee Memorial Hospital is the only Lee Health hospital that does not have pneumatic tubes that assist with medication, lab and other deliveries. therefore, all pharmacy deliveries are dependent on pharmacy staff delivering medications to nursing units. During the day, deliveries are made by a full-time technician who rounds to all the units and makes the necessary deliveries every hour. The night pharmacy technician rounds on the units every two hours.

“TUG helps facilitate necessary deliveries between normal delivery times, including when the technician is rounding on units, for example,” says Larry Clark, Pharm.D., Director of Pharmacy at Lee Memorial Hospital. “TUG helps assure timely deliveries between rounds and reduces the number of times the nursing staff has to pick up medications.”

Since implementation on Sept. 27, TUG has made an average of 17 trips a day, averaging 30 unit deliveries per day. TUG has traveled more than 100 miles and averages 21 minutes per trip.

Tags: pharmacy, technology, TUG, medication robot, Lee Memorial Hospital