US20090169138A1 - Medication and medical supply storage package and method - Google Patents

Medication and medical supply storage package and method Download PDF

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Publication number
US20090169138A1
US20090169138A1 US11966407 US96640707A US2009169138A1 US 20090169138 A1 US20090169138 A1 US 20090169138A1 US 11966407 US11966407 US 11966407 US 96640707 A US96640707 A US 96640707A US 2009169138 A1 US2009169138 A1 US 2009169138A1
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Prior art keywords
surfaces
medication
medical supply
seal
package
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Abandoned
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US11966407
Inventor
William A. Bieganski
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McKesson Automation Inc
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McKesson Automation Inc
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    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B65CONVEYING; PACKING; STORING; HANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL
    • B65DCONTAINERS FOR STORAGE OR TRANSPORT OF ARTICLES OR MATERIALS, e.g. BAGS, BARRELS, BOTTLES, BOXES, CANS, CARTONS, CRATES, DRUMS, JARS, TANKS, HOPPERS, FORWARDING CONTAINERS; ACCESSORIES, CLOSURES, OR FITTINGS THEREFOR; PACKAGING ELEMENTS; PACKAGES
    • B65D75/00Packages comprising articles or materials partially or wholly enclosed in strips, sheets, blanks, tubes, or webs of flexible sheet material, e.g. in folded wrappers
    • B65D75/52Details
    • B65D75/54Cards, coupons, or other inserts or accessories
    • B65D75/56Handles or other suspension means
    • B65D75/566Hand holes or suspension apertures
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B65CONVEYING; PACKING; STORING; HANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL
    • B65DCONTAINERS FOR STORAGE OR TRANSPORT OF ARTICLES OR MATERIALS, e.g. BAGS, BARRELS, BOTTLES, BOXES, CANS, CARTONS, CRATES, DRUMS, JARS, TANKS, HOPPERS, FORWARDING CONTAINERS; ACCESSORIES, CLOSURES, OR FITTINGS THEREFOR; PACKAGING ELEMENTS; PACKAGES
    • B65D2575/00Packages comprising articles or materials partially or wholly enclosed in strips, sheets, blanks, tubes or webs of flexible sheet material, e.g. in folded wrappers
    • B65D2575/52Details
    • B65D2575/54Cards, coupons, or other inserts or accessories
    • B65D2575/56Handles or other suspension means
    • B65D2575/565Handles or other suspension means means explicitly used for suspending

Abstract

A medication and medical supply storage package and packing method are provided for use with an automated medication and medical supply dispensing device. In various embodiments, the medication and medical supply storage package and method are configured to accommodate oversized medications or medical supplies by providing a package and packaging method that include first and second surfaces that are sealed with first and second seals, as well as an intermediate seal that extends through a limited portion of the first and second surfaces. As a result of the limited extent of the intermediate seal, oversized medication and medical supplies may extend into an open area on at least one side of the seal, allowing existing medication and medical supply dispensing devices to locate and dispense oversized medications or medical supplies that would otherwise have to be manually picked.

Description

    FIELD OF THE INVENTION
  • Exemplary embodiments of the present invention relate generally to storing medications and medical supplies and, in particular, to a medication and medical supply storage package and method.
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • In a typical hospital, nursing home, or other similar institution, doctors visit their patients on a routine basis and prescribe various medications for each patient. In turn, each patient is likely assigned a certain medication treatment plan that requires that he or she take one or more doses of various medications daily. Some medications may be administered only at certain times of the day (e.g., after meals) and/or at intervals of one or more hours each day. In addition, patients may request certain medications on an elective basis, such as head or body aches. These requests are typically included with the doctor's medication request or prescription that he or she sends to a pharmacy of the hospital for filling.
  • Medication requests or prescriptions received by the pharmacy are usually checked by a registered pharmacist and then entered into the pharmacy information system. These requests reflect not only orders that are added to a particular patient's treatment plan, but also changes in a patient's existing treatment plan. The pharmacy information system combines this information with the patient's existing medication schedule and develops a patient medication profile. Using the patient medication profile, a fill list can be created that lists all medications and/or medical supplies that must be distributed to all patients for a given time period (e.g., a day) to satisfy respective treatment plans.
  • Systems have been developed that automate the process of retrieving unit dose medications and medical supplies and distributing them to patients according to their respective medication profiles. One example of such a system is the ROBOT-Rx® system, offered by McKesson Automation Inc. and described in U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,468,110, 5,593,267 and 5,880,443, and U.S. Patent Publication No. 2007/0265729, the contents of which are hereby incorporated herein by reference.
  • The ROBOT-Rx® system, like other similar systems, is a stationary robotic system that automates the drug storing, dispensing, returning, restocking and crediting process by using barcode technology. In particular, medications and medical supplies are packaged, for example in a clear plastic bag, so that each package contains a barcode corresponding to the package contents. The barcode may include the name of the medication, quantity, weight, instructions for use and/or expiration date.
  • The packaged medications and medical supplies are then stored in a storage area, such as a storage rack having a frame and a plurality of rod supports on which each package can be hung in a manner that provides each with an X, Y coordinate. Using the X, Y coordinates, packages can then be selected by an automated picking means, such as a robotic picking arm capable of moving at least in three, mutually orthogonal directions designated X, Y and Z for distribution to individual patients. FIG. 1 shows a portion of a typical array of storage packages 10 (including a small version of a storage package and a large version of a storage package) that store medications 12 or medical supplies supported by an array of rod supports 14 as may be found in an automated medication and medical supply dispensing device, such as the ROBOT-Rx® system.
  • In one instance, a pharmacist or technician may manually enter the identification of a specific medication he or she would like the automated system to retrieve, for example, as a patient's first dose, in an emergency situation. The automated system, and, in particular, a computer associated with the automated system, would then locate the desired medication (i.e., the X, Y and Z coordinates of the medication) and instruct the picking means to retrieve the medication at that location. In another instance, the fill list created based on each patient's medication profile may be communicated to the computer associated with the automated system, providing the automated system with a current list of all patients and their individual medication needs. The computer also maintains a database of all medications stored in the storage area along with their corresponding X, Y and Z coordinates.
  • The computer can then guide the picking means to select the desired unit dose medications or medical supplies and deposit them into patient-specific boxes or containers. In particular, the picking means, which also includes a barcode reader, moves to the designated location of a particular medication, as instructed by the computer, scans the barcode displayed on the package containing the medication or medical supply to determine the identification of the medication contained in the package, and provides the identity to the computer. After the computer confirms that the correct medication or medical supply is contained in the package, the picking arm removes the package from the storage area using a vacuum generator to produce suction at several areas at an end of the picking arm to pull the package off the rod, or other holding means, and hold the package until it can be deposited into a patient-specific container. FIG. 2 shows an example of a robotic picking arm 15 having a plurality of vacuum areas 17 configured to pick and pull a package 10 off of a rod support 14 as may be found in an automated medication and medical supply dispensing device, such as a the ROBOT-Rx® system.
  • As noted above, prior to being stored in an automated medication and medical supply dispensing device, medications and medical supplies are typically inserted into standard storage packages, which are then sealed. Because of the desire to maximize the efficiency of typical automated medication and medical supply dispensing devices, existing storage packages are limited in size and shape, typically resulting in compact packages with little if any differences in package sizes. FIG. 3 shows two typical standardized storage packages 10 for use with an automated medication and medical supply dispensing device. Specifically, a small version of a storage package is depicted on the left and a large version of the storage package is depicted the right.
  • Unfortunately, some medications and medical supplies are oversized and do not fit into the standardized packages. For example, FIG. 4 shows an example of an oversized medical supply, such as a pediatric syringe 20, which is too large to fit into either the standardized small or large storage packages 10. Thus, because of their size, these medications and medical supplies must be packaged in non-standardized packages that cannot be used with the automated medication and medical supply dispensing devices. Often, the non-standardized packages are placed near the automated medication and medical supply dispensing device and must be manually picked. These manual operations are cumbersome, inefficient, and disrupt the automation of the dispensing device. Additionally, they add the potential for human error, which the automated medication and medical supply dispensing device is designed to eliminate.
  • One solution is to redesign the automated medication and medical supply dispensing devices to accommodate a larger variety of package sizes. However, the cost to redesign such systems is large and this solution does not address the countless systems already in operation. Another solution is to modify existing systems to accommodate the larger package sizes, however again this does not provide an efficient solution as such modifications would be quite costly, and, perhaps more importantly, would require removing the systems from service for an undetermined amount of time.
  • As a result, there is a need for a medication and medical supply storage package and method for accommodating oversized medications and medial supplies. The medication and medical supply storage package and method should allow oversized medication and medical supplies to be usable with existing automated medication and medical supply dispensing devices such that the need for manual picking is reduced or eliminated. Additionally, the medication and medical supply storage package and method should be usable without costly redesigns or modifications to existing automated medication and medical supply dispensing devices.
  • BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • In general, exemplary embodiments of the present invention provide an improvement over the known prior art by, among other things, providing a medication and medical supply storage package and method for use with automated medication and medical supply dispensing devices.
  • In particular, in one exemplary embodiment of the present invention, a medication and medical supply storage package is provided that may comprise first and second opposing surfaces, the surfaces being substantially planar and each defining a pair of sides, a top end, a bottom end, and an aperture located proximate the top end and between the sides, wherein the apertures are substantially aligned and are configured to support the package on support rods of the automated medication and medical supply dispensing device. A top seal joins the first and second surfaces proximate the top ends, the top seal being located above the apertures and extending substantially from one side of the first and second surfaces to the other side. A bottom seal joins the first and second surfaces proximate the bottom ends, the bottom seal extending substantially from one side of the first and second surfaces to the other side. And an intermediate seal joins the first and second surfaces below the apertures and extends through a limited portion of the surfaces between the sides.
  • In one aspect, the intermediate seal of the medication and medical supply storage package may be approximately centered between the sides thus defining a pair of open areas on either side of the intermediate seal that extend approximately to the top seal. In another aspect, the apertures of the first and second surfaces may be approximately centered between the sides. In another aspect, the first and second surfaces may be comprised of a single extruded flexible film. In another aspect, the first and second surfaces may comprise separate portions of flexible film. In another aspect, the first and second surfaces may comprise linear low density polyethylene. In still another aspect, the first and second surfaces each may have an approximate thickness of 0.003 inches.
  • A method of packaging an oversized medication or medical supply for use with an automated medication and medical supply dispensing device is also provided. In one exemplary embodiment, the method may comprise providing a medication and medical supply storage package comprising first and second opposing surfaces, the surfaces being substantially planar and each defining a pair of sides, a top end, a bottom end, and an aperture located proximate the top end and between the sides, wherein the apertures are substantially aligned and are configured to support the package on the rods, and sealing the first and second surfaces together with a first seal that extends substantially from one side of the first and second surfaces to the other side, sealing the first and second surfaces together with an intermediate seal that extends through a limited portion of the surfaces approximately centered between the sides such that a pair of open areas are created on either side of the intermediate seal, inserting the oversized medication or medical supply into the package such that a portion of the oversized medical supply storage package extends into at least one of the open areas, and sealing the first and second surfaces together with a second seal that extends substantially from one side of the first and second surfaces to the other side.
  • In one aspect, sealing the first and second surfaces with a first seal may comprise sealing the first and second surfaces with a top seal that joins the first and second surfaces proximate the top ends, wherein the top seal is located above the apertures. In another aspect, sealing the first and second surfaces together with a second seal may comprise sealing the first and second surfaces with a bottom seal that joins the first and second surfaces proximate the bottom ends. In another aspect, the apertures of the first and second surfaces may be approximately centered between the sides. In another aspect, the first and second surfaces may be comprised of a single extruded flexible film. In another aspect, the first and second surfaces may comprise separate portions of flexible film. In another aspect, the first and second surfaces may comprise linear low density polyethylene. In still another aspect, the first and second surfaces each have an approximate thickness of 0.003 inches.
  • As a result, the present invention provides an improved medication and medical supply storage package and method for use with an automated medication and medical supply dispensing device. In various embodiments, the medication and medical supply storage package and method are configured to accommodate oversized medications or medical supplies by providing a package that includes first and second surfaces that are sealed with first and second seals, as well as an intermediate seal that extends through a limited portion of the first and second surfaces. As a result, oversized medication and medical supplies may extend into an open area on at least one side of the seal, allowing existing medication and medical supply dispensing devices to locate and dispense oversized medications or medical supplies that would otherwise have to be manually picked.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWING(S)
  • Having thus described the invention in general terms, reference will now be made to the accompanying drawings, which are not necessarily drawn to scale, and wherein:
  • FIG. 1 illustrates a portion of a typical array of storage packages that store medications and medical supplies hanging on an array of rod supports as may be found in an automated medication and medical supply dispensing device;
  • FIG. 2 illustrates an example of a robotic picking arm having a plurality of vacuum areas configured to pick and pull a package off of a rod support as may be found in an automated medication and medical supply dispensing device;
  • FIG. 3 illustrates two typical standardized medication and medical supply storage packages for use with an automated medication and medical supply dispensing device;
  • FIG. 4 illustrates an example of an oversized medical supply that is too large to fit into a standardized medication and medical supply storage package;
  • FIG. 5 illustrates a medication and medical supply storage package in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention;
  • FIG. 6 illustrates a medication and medical supply storage package containing an oversized medical supply in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention; and
  • FIG. 7 illustrates a medication and medical supply storage package in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention shown relative to a robotic picking arm having a plurality of vacuum areas configured to pick and pull the package off of a rod support.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
  • The present invention now will be described more fully hereinafter with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which some, but not all embodiments of the invention are shown. Indeed, the invention may be embodied in many different forms and should not be construed as limited to the embodiments set forth herein; rather, these embodiments are provided so that this disclosure will satisfy applicable legal requirements. Like numbers refer to like elements throughout.
  • As noted above, FIGS. 1-4 show a typical array of storage packages 10 that store medications 12 or medical supplies supported by an array of rod supports 14 as may be found in an automated medication and medical supply dispensing device, such as the ROBOT-Rx® system. As can best be seen in FIG. 3, each of these medication and medical supply packages 10 includes three seals, comprising a pair of top seals 22, 24 and a bottom seal 26. As shown in the figures, the top seals 22, 24 are located on either side of an aperture 28. Additionally, the top seals 22, 24 and the bottom seal 26 extend the entire width of the package 10. In order to store a medication 12 or medical supply inside of the package 10, only the top seals 22, 24 are initially sealed. Once the medication 12 or medical supply is placed into the package 10, the bottom seal 26 is created. However, as shown in FIG. 4, many medications or medical supplies are oversized and do not fit inside the existing standardized medication and medication supply storage packages.
  • FIG. 5 shows a medication and medical supply storage package 100 in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention. The medication and medical supply storage package 100 generally includes first and second opposing surfaces 102, 104 that are sealed together to create a main cavity 106. In the depicted embodiment, each of the opposing surfaces has generally the same size and is generally rectangular in shape, with each defining a top end 108, 110, a bottom end 112, 114, a first side 116, 118, and a second side 120, 122. In various embodiments, the opposing surfaces 102, 104 may be constructed of a variety of materials, including, but not limited to, flexible films. However, in the depicted embodiment the opposing surfaces 102, 104 are constructed of linear low density polyethylene, with each surface having a thickness of approximately 0.003 inches. In various other embodiments the thickness of the opposing surfaces may vary.
  • The opposing surfaces also includes apertures 124, 126 located proximate the top ends, 108, 110 and approximately centered between the first sides 116, 118 and the second sides 120, 122. The apertures 124, 126 are designed to support the storage package 100 on the rod supports of an automated medication and medical supply dispensing device. As such, the apertures 124, 126 are generally aligned with each other and are configured to fit easily over the dimensions of a typical rod support. In the depicted embodiment the apertures 126, 128 are generally circular in shape, however in other embodiments they may have many different shapes and/or sizes configured to fit over the rod supports of an automated medication and medical supply dispensing device.
  • A top seal 128 joins the first and second surfaces 102, 104 above the apertures 124, 126 and proximate the top ends 108, 110. In the depicted embodiment, the top seal 128 extends across the width of the storage package 100 extending approximately from the first sides 116, 118 to the second sides 120, 122. Likewise, a bottom seal 130 joins the first and second surfaces 102, 104 proximate the bottom ends 112, 114. The bottom seal 130 also extends across the width of the storage package 100 approximately from the first sides 116, 118 to the second sides 120, 122.
  • An intermediate seal 132 is located below the apertures 124, 126. The intermediate seal extends only through a limited portion of the opposing surfaces 102, 104. In the depicted embodiment, the intermediate seal 132 is approximately centered between the first sides 116, 118 and the second sides 118, 120. As a result of the limited extent of the intermediate seal 132, two open areas 134, 136 are created on either side of the intermediate seal 132, effectively extending the usable space between the opposing surfaces 102, 104 on either side of the intermediate seal 132, unlike with existing medication and medical supply storage package designs (such as those shown, for example, in FIG. 5). As a result, oversized medications and medical supplies that would not ordinarily fit into prior art medication and medical supply storage packages, may take advantage of the additional usable storage space provided by open areas 134, 136. Referring to FIG. 6, for example, a pediatric syringe 20, which is too large to fit into the existing standardized storage packages, fits easily into the medication and medial supply storage package 100 of the depicted embodiment of the present invention.
  • In order to package an oversized medication or medical supply according to one embodiment of the present invention, a medication and medical supply storage package 100 is provided having the top seal 128 and intermediate seal 132 already in place. The oversized medication or medical supply is then inserted into the cavity 106, and if need be, into one or both of the open areas 134, 136. The bottom seal 130 is then added to the supply package 100. It should be noted that in other embodiments, one or any combination of the seals may be added at any time and need not be constructed in the order described by the exemplary embodiment.
  • By providing an intermediate seal that extends over a limited portion of the first and second opposing surfaces 102, 104, the medication and medical supply storage package 100 of the depicted embodiment accommodates medications and medical supplies having a larger variety of sizes and shapes, without substantially changing the overall dimensions of the storage package 100. As a result, the storage package 100 may be used in existing automated medication and medical supply dispensing devices without any significant modifications to the design or physical layout of the dispensing devices.
  • Additionally, by including the intermediate seal 132, the storage package 100 can be located and picked by a robotic picking arm 15 of an automated medication and medical supply dispensing device in the same manner as a standard supply package. As shown in FIG. 7, the top seal 128 and the intermediate seal 132 of the supply package 100 seal the package 100 together proximate the area where the vacuum areas 17 contact the supply package 100 when picking the supply package 100 off of the rod supports 14. As such, the supply package 100 will easily slide along the rod supports 14, as would a standard supply package.
  • The present invention thus provides an improved medication and medical supply storage package and method configured to accommodate oversized medications or medical supplies by providing a package that includes additional usable storage space, without requiring costly redesigns or modifications to existing automated medication and medical supply dispensing devices or substantial changes to the dimensions of the supply package.

Claims (15)

  1. 1. A medication and medical supply storage package for use with an automated medication and medical supply dispensing device having a plurality of hanging rods disposed in an array, said package comprising:
    first and second opposing surfaces, said surfaces being substantially planar and each defining a pair of sides, a top end, a bottom end, and an aperture located proximate said top end and between said sides, wherein said apertures are substantially aligned and are configured to support said package on said rods;
    a top seal joining said first and second surfaces proximate said top ends, said top seal located above said apertures and extending substantially from one side of said first and second surfaces to the other side;
    a bottom seal joining said first and second surfaces proximate said bottom ends, said bottom seal extending substantially from one side of said first and second surfaces to the other side; and
    an intermediate seal joining said first and second surfaces below said apertures and extending through a limited portion of said surfaces between said sides.
  2. 2. The medication and medical supply storage package of claim 1, wherein the intermediate seal is approximately centered between the sides thus defining a pair of open areas on either side of the intermediate seal and that extend approximately to the top seal.
  3. 3. The medication and medical supply storage package of claim 1, wherein the apertures of the first and second surfaces are approximately centered between the sides.
  4. 4. The medication and medical supply storage package of claim 1, wherein the first and second surfaces are comprised of a single extruded flexible film.
  5. 5. The medication and medical supply storage package of claim 1, wherein the first and second surfaces comprise separate portions of flexible film.
  6. 6. The medication and medical supply storage package of claim 1, wherein the first and second surfaces comprise linear low density polyethylene.
  7. 7. The medication and medical supply storage package of claim 6, wherein the first and second surfaces each have an approximate thickness of 0.003 inches.
  8. 8. A method of packaging an oversized medication or medical supply for use with an automated medication and medical supply dispensing device having a plurality of hanging rods disposed in an array, said method comprising:
    providing a medication and medical supply storage package comprising first and second opposing surfaces, the surfaces being substantially planar and each defining a pair of sides, a top end, a bottom end, and an aperture located proximate the top end and between the sides, wherein the apertures are substantially aligned and are configured to support the package on the rods;
    sealing the first and second surfaces together with a first seal that extends substantially from one side of the first and second surfaces to the other side;
    sealing the first and second surfaces together with an intermediate seal that extends through a limited portion of the surfaces approximately centered between the sides such that a pair of open areas are created on either side of the intermediate seal;
    inserting the oversized medication or medical supply into the package such that a portion of the oversized medical supply storage package extends into at least one of the open areas; and
    sealing the first and second surfaces together with a second seal that extends substantially from one side of the first and second surfaces to the other side.
  9. 9. The method of packaging an oversized medication or medical supply of claim 8, wherein sealing the first and second surfaces with a first seal comprises sealing the first and second surfaces with a top seal that joins the first and second surfaces proximate the top ends, and wherein the top seal is located above the apertures.
  10. 10. The method of packing an oversized medication or medical supply of claim 9, wherein sealing the first and second surfaces together with a second seal comprises sealing the first and second surfaces with a bottom seal that joins the first and second surfaces proximate the bottom ends.
  11. 11. The method of packing an oversized medication or medical supply of claim 8, wherein the apertures of the first and second surfaces are approximately centered between the sides.
  12. 12. The method of packing an oversized medication or medical supply of claim 8, wherein the first and second surfaces are comprised of a single extruded flexible film.
  13. 13. The method of packing an oversized medication or medical supply of claim 8, wherein the first and second surfaces comprise separate portions of flexible film.
  14. 14. The method of packing an oversized medication or medical supply of claim 8, wherein the first and second surfaces comprise linear low density polyethylene.
  15. 15. The method of packing an oversized medication or medical supply of claim 14, wherein the first and second surfaces each have an approximate thickness of 0.003 inches.
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US9150119B2 (en) 2013-03-15 2015-10-06 Aesynt Incorporated Apparatuses, systems, and methods for anticipating and delivering medications from a central pharmacy to a patient using a track based transport system
US9399543B2 (en) 2010-07-14 2016-07-26 Parata Systems, Llc Automated pharmacy system for dispensing unit doses of pharmaceuticals and the like
US9511945B2 (en) 2012-10-12 2016-12-06 Aesynt Incorporated Apparatuses, systems, and methods for transporting medications from a central pharmacy to a patient in a healthcare facility

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