Applying Toyota Production System Techniques for Medication Delivery: Improving Hospital Safety and Efficiency


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Abstract: The inpatient medication delivery system used at a large regional acute care hospital in the Midwest had become antiquated and inefficient. The existing 24-hr medication cart-fill exchange process with delivery to the patients' bedside did not always provide ordered medications to the nursing units when they were needed. In 2007 the principles of the Toyota Production System (TPS) were applied to the system. Project objectives were to improve medication safety and reduce the time needed for nurses to retrieve patient medications. A multidisciplinary team was formed that included representatives from nursing, pharmacy, informatics, quality, and various operational support departments. Team members were educated and trained in the tools and techniques of TPS, and then designed and implemented a new pull system benchmarking the TPS Ideal State model. The newly installed process, providing just-in-time medication availability, has measurably improved delivery processes as well as patient safety and satisfaction. Other positive outcomes have included improved nursing satisfaction, reduced nursing wait time for delivered medications, and improved efficiency in the pharmacy. After a successful pilot on two nursing units, the system is being extended to the rest of the hospital.