Virtual medical care less prone to medical errors An automatic drug collection and delivery system gives patients more reasons to trust medical care in hospitals. Health © PhotoDisc Hospitals and medical centres are places where mistakes can happen. Many patients on a yearly basis fall victim to errors mainly because medication was incorrectly administered to them and in effect may either require further recovery treatment to avoid suffering from severe repercussions. A new IST European funded-project has developed a system that orders drugs automatically, predicts their quantity and distributes them correctly in hospitals. With the use of a 2D barcode technology, smart labels are put on drugs in order to automatically retrieve them from stock and reorder them. In order to do that, the clinician uses a smartcard to enter the Smart cabinet and supply the Smart Cart with medication. The system identifies the drugs loaded onto the trolley as well as the medication necessary for every round. In case of an error, the cart automatically warns the operator that the wrong medicine is put in the trolley. Patients on the other hand wear smart wristbands that provide information on prescribed medication. The information is then read by the cart, which warns doctors or nurses of any mistakes while administering medication to patients. A clinician can also access the patients' medical data only with respect to his/her immediate medical needs. This is achieved through the use of smartcards and digital signatures. Finally, the patient can view a healthcare print out of their condition as well as the name of the person who has access to their personal data. The advantages of the technology are that it could diminish operational costs by cutting down on errors made by nurses and administrative staff. A four-month test run of the already existing prototype with more than 600 patients involved, showed that the error probability was considerably reduced and that the project could in the future offer a promising potential for commercialisation.