UNIT DOSE SYSTEM
Section I. ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES
How does the unit dose system differ from the ward issue system? Unit dose is
a system in which medications are dispensed to wards for administration to a specific
patient, in a specific dose, at a specific time, on a regular basis. In this system, each
dose is individually prepared, packaged, and labeled.
NO IDEAL SYSTEM.
Like the ward issue system, the unit dose system has its own advantages and
disadvantages. There is no one ideal system for delivery of medications to patients.
The best that can be hoped for is to find a system where the advantages significantly
outweigh the disadvantages.
a. Patient Medication Profile. This is one of the most significant advantages of
the unit dose system. With the advent of the unit dose system and the patient
medication profile, the pharmacy has a method of following each individual patient and
his medications and becomes involved in monitoring patient care.
b. Drug Identity Maintained. With the numerous generic drugs on the market
today, it has become increasingly difficult to identify unpackaged tablets and capsules.
In the unit dose system, each dose of medication is individually packaged and identified
according to name, strength, and the patient for which it is intended. This has greatly
reduced the number of medication errors.
c. Central Location of Drugs. Under the unit dose system, the size of ward
stock is reduced, with most of the stock located in the pharmacy. This helps to reduce
cost as inventory control can be maximized and monitored more efficiently. Also with
the drugs centrally located in the pharmacy, the amount of medication on the ward is
restricted to exactly what the patient needs for a 24 hour period. This results in reduced
d. Medications Ready for Administration. With the unit dose system, the
medications are in a cart which can be taken directly to the patient's bedside. The dose
is simply removed from the medication cart, opened, and administered directly to the