Skip To Content

Search the Newsroom:

(Seperate multiple keywords with a comma)

Bar-code Scanning to Improve Patient Safety at Sanford USD Medical Center

Pharmacy automation technology to enhance quality of care, improve efficiency.

(SIOUX FALLS, SD) – The pharmacy at Sanford USD Medical Center in Sioux Falls is now using bar-code scanning technology to automatically package and dispense medications for patients. This technology is uniquely designed to help reduce the potential for medication errors and ensure more efficient care delivery, starting in the pharmacy and reaching to the patient’s bedside. Sanford joins an elite group of healthcare organizations that are using bar-code scanning solutions to improve patient safety and health outcomes.

“We’re adding an essential level of safety and efficiency to our medication dispensing process,” said Mike Duncan, pharmacy director, Sanford USD Medical Center. “Every medication is scanned for accuracy before it leaves the pharmacy to help ensure that the right medication is dispensed for the right patient."

The pharmacy installed a packaging system from McKesson to automate the packaging of oral solid medications into bar-coded, unit-dose forms. The medications are then loaded into robotics-driven dispensing and inventory management systems, also from McKesson, where they are automatically picked and scanned for accuracy before leaving the pharmacy. McKesson is a healthcare services and information technology company and is a leader in central pharmacy automation for hospitals.

The pharmacy is using the robotic medication dispensing system to automatically dispense, restock and store approximately 80 percent of its medications. Unit-doses are automatically selected, scanned, placed into patient-specific envelopes and delivered to the appropriate nursing units. Two automated carousel storage and retrieval systems are used to dispense additional patient medications and manage inventory stocked in its automated dispensing cabinets in the patient care areas.

With the bar-code scanning capabilities that these solutions provide, pharmacy technicians can quickly dispense the medications needed while reducing the potential for errors. The result is increased accuracy and more efficient workflow.

“Bar-code-based automation technology is vital to minimizing the potential for error and improving patient safety at the point of care,” said Kay Santema, vice president, Sanford USD Medical Center. “Because our processes are automated, our pharmacists will have more time for clinical work, which has a positive impact on our quality of care. Our new technologies are helping us lay the foundation we need to support our bar-code medication administration and computerized provider order management initiatives.”
About Sanford Health
Sanford Health is an integrated health system headquartered in Fargo, ND and Sioux Falls, SD and consists of two long-standing organizations that merged in 2009. Sanford is now the largest, rural, not-for-profit health care system in the nation with locations in 112 communities in seven states. In addition, Sanford Health is in the process of developing international clinics in Ireland, Ghana, Israel and Mexico.

Sanford Health includes 34 hospitals, 116 clinic locations and more than 900 physicians in 70 specialty areas of medicine. With more than 20,000 employees, Sanford Health is the largest employer in North and South Dakota. The system is experiencing dynamic growth and development in conjunction with Denny Sanford's $400 million gift in 2007, the largest gift ever to a health care organization in America. This gift is making possible the implementation of the several initiatives including global children's clinics, multiple research centers and finding a cure for type-1 diabetes. For more information, visit

About McKesson

McKesson Corporation, currently ranked 15th on the FORTUNE 500, is a healthcare services and information technology company dedicated to making the business of healthcare run better. We partner with payers, hospitals, physician offices, pharmacies, pharmaceutical companies and others across the spectrum of care to build healthier organizations that deliver better care to patients in every setting. McKesson helps its customers improve their financial, operational, and clinical performance with solutions that include pharmaceutical and medical-surgical supply management, healthcare information technology, and business and clinical services. For more information, visit

Stacy Bauer Jones | Media Relations Manager | Sioux Falls Region
605-328-7056 or 605-366-2432 |
Follow Me @SanfordStacy