RIVA RobotThe Princess Margaret Cancer Centre is the first site in Canada to use a robot to produce chemotherapy doses for patients. On December 4, 2012, the pharmacy of the Conway Chemotherapy and Transfusion Centre prepared its first chemotherapy dose using RIVA (Robotic IV Automation). “Robotic automation provides a solution that enhances both medication safety for our cancer patients as well as occupational health and safety for our pharmacy staff,” says Rita Kwong, Site Operations Manager, Princess Margaret Pharmacy. “RIVA is the future of drug delivery and The Princess Margaret is proud to be at the forefront of this leading innovation.”

Funded by The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation, RIVA, developed by Intelligent Hospital Systems Inc., is helping hospital pharmacies efficiently and accurately prepare IV syringes and bags.

The Princess Margaret prepares approximately 200 chemotherapy doses a day. Prior to the installation of the robot, these doses were all prepared manually by pharmacy technicians who would draw the drug from a vial in a vented safety cabinet. When the drug is transferred from a vial to a syringe or bag, staff can potentially be exposed to the toxic agents through tiny airborne liquid droplets or needle stick injuries. Technicians manually preparing the drugs often suffer from repetitive strain injury (RSI) due to the large number of fluid transfers involved in each dose preparation.

With RIVA, new safety measures will be put in place, including image and barcode recognition, dimensions and weight verification to accurately select the right drug and diluent for preparation, and an electronic audit trail that documents dose preparation. RIVA interfaces with the hospital pharmacy computer system, enabling the robot to prepare doses directly from prescription orders entered by pharmacists. This one-stop process reduces the risk of medical error by eliminating the need for technicians to read the printed labels to determine the dose needed.

“With a robot, the reliability of exact dosage is much more consistent,” said Kwong. “Everything is prepared with the same programmed parameters, procedures and checks—there aren’t any human variations influencing the process.”

Watch a video about the generous donation that facilitated the renovation of the Conway Chemotherapy and Transfusion Centre, including the pharmacy robot.