When should pharmacists visit their wards? An application of simulation to planning hospital pharmacy services.

, , , and . Health care management science 2 (1): 35--42 (January 1999)


This paper reports a pilot study of the use of simulation in planning hospital pharmacy services. The objectives were to create a simulation model of the hospital drug distribution system, to use the model to investigate a simple problem and to assess the potential for simulation to aid decision making in hospital pharmacy management. The problem chosen for investigation focused on the UK ward pharmacy system, where a pharmacist visits each ward daily to initiate the supply of newly prescribed non-stock medication. A simulation model was used to investigate how changing the time of the ward pharmacist's visit could affect the mean time delay between the prescription of a non-stock drug and the arrival of that drug on the ward. The simulation results suggest that the time of day at which pharmacists visit their wards can have a major impact on delay times, and that the relative benefit of different visit times is likely to vary between wards. Simulation was found to be a useful approach to investigating different service alternatives without the expense and disruption of assessing each in practice.

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