A hospital pharmacy manages the supply and administration of all medications in the hospital or medical center. Hospital pharmacies must maintain high standards of accuracy, timeliness, and efficiency, as important decisions from prescribed treatment plans to dosages and administration routes all funnel through their department. 

Today’s article covers the critical hospital pharmacy equipment that assists pharmacies in providing accurate and quality care. We’ll cover four types of hospital pharmacy equipment and why they’re essential for your department. 

Dispensing Systems for Hospital Pharmacy

Medication dispensing is the process of preparing and giving prescribed drugs to a patient. It is a part of the medication management system, which involves everything from proper preparation of drugs to ensuring they achieve the desired effects. 

Two dispensing systems that should be on your hospital pharmacy equipment list include:

Dosage measure racks

Dosage measure racks hold the tools used to measure the drug ingredients for a medication. Graduated cylinders, syringes, and pipettes are examples of some of these dosage measure tools. All aid the pharmacy tech when filling out prescription orders safely and accurately.

Medication and supply dispensing cabinets

Cabinets and other forms of storage units store and dispense drugs and medications. Many are automated and are called automated dispensing cabinets, or ADCs. 

The ADC called the “carousel” is found in most hospital pharmacies. It looks like a wall-size cabinet with drawers. The drawers rotate, allowing them to store more drugs and medications while allowing quick and easy access by pharmacy staff.

Hospital pharmacies with decentralized pharmacy systems manage ADCs outside the central department. If your hospital pharmacy is set up this way, you will most likely need:

  • Medication cabinets for hospital wards like the ICU, CCU, or any location where medication retrieval cannot wait for dispensing by the central department. Medication cabinets store a limited amount of medication. This requires periodic visits by pharmacy techs to make sure the ADC’s stock hasn’t run out or expired. 
  • Medication dispensing carts, which are basically mobile ADCs. Pharma and hospital personnel can roll these workstations on wheels with their limited stock of medication to wherever patients are located on the hospital floor. 

Access to all these forms of automated dispensing cabinets is through the attached medical-grade computers. The medical-grade certification means they can operate safely with other medical devices in the pharmacy department as well as nearby patients (as in the case of the medication dispensing carts). Security features like a built-in RFID reader and Imprivata Single Sign-On ensure that only authorized pharma personnel can access the cabinets’ drugs and medications. 

Other features like fanless design for cooling and an IP65 sealed casing will make it easy to keep the computers clean, which is necessary in pharmacies.

Pharmacy Compounding Equipment

Customized medication preparation or “compounding” is the practice of mixing, combining, changing, or removing certain ingredients from drugs to match a patient’s prescription. 

Compounding allows hospital pharmacies to tailor patients’ prescriptions to their unique wants and needs. Some patients may be allergic to the dye used in the standard drug, for example. 

Others may be unable to swallow capsules, as in the case of small children and many older adults. Compounding addresses these roadblocks so the patient can get the medications promptly.

Compounding equipment

Standard hospital pharmacy equipment for compounding includes:

  • Balance scales: Used to weigh medications accurately. 
  • Graduated cylinders and pipettes: For measuring liquid medications and other fluids.
  • Mortars and pestles: For crushing drugs and mixing medications.
  • Spatulas: Used to scoop and move those medications in paste form.

Pharmacy isolator and clean rooms

Certain medications may be dangerous to pharmacy technicians during compounding, or the drugs need to be in highly sterile conditions to be handled properly. In these situations, compounding is performed in pharmacy isolators and clean rooms. 

A pharmacy isolator is basically a sealed tank. Gloves stitched to the tank let pharmacists reach inside to work with the drugs. A clean room is similar but room-sized. Everything from the surfaces of the isolator or room to their air is carefully controlled and filtered to be as dust and microbe-free as possible. 

Computers are frequently found in both, where they assist with tasks from weighing drugs to tracking prescriptions. Medical computers are the best choice thanks to their fanless design (to prevent circulating the ingredients), sealed IP65 bezels for easy cleaning, and medical-grade certifications.

Drug Storage and Refrigeration

Proper medication storage is of vital importance to hospital pharmacies. Correctly stored drugs maintain their effects and potency. On the other hand, improperly stored ones can become unusable well before their expiration date. Some may even become toxic and cause illness in patients. 

High heat degrades medications, reducing their effectiveness. Humidity that is too high or too low has similar effects. Direct lighting, whether natural or artificial, negatively affects a drug’s potency through a process called photocomposition. 

Proper drug storage cabinets in hospital pharmacies are cool, dry places. Their interior temperature does not exceed 77°F, with humidity set between 40 to 70 percent. Lighting is usually turned off or kept at a minimum. 

Pharmacy Refrigeration Unit

One drug storage unit that should receive special mention is the pharmacy refrigerator or freezer. Found in virtually all hospital pharmacies, this special fridge houses temperature-sensitive medications and pharmaceutical items in a cold environment. The pharmacy freezer is custom-built to house them. 

Medication Packaging and Labeling

Mislabeling in pharmacy is when the label on a medication or drug does not reflect the medication itself. There may be wrong ingredients in the medication, for example. Mistakes on how to use the drug (e.g., wrong dosage) can also be the result of mislabeling. 

Patients following these label mistakes can suffer greatly – overdoses, heart attacks, strokes, toxicity, and organ failure are just some effects that may result in a mislabeled med. The following tools can help prevent such mistakes from occurring.

Label makers and printers

Medication packaging and labeling must be as clear and accurate as possible. Your pharmacy team can start by making sure the labels printed out by the various label printers in the department are legible and easy to read. This includes the barcode and even QR codes (if your pharmacy uses the latter).

The printouts should follow any standards set by the department, hospital, and state laws; many require the medication’s name to be in Bold, for example. Medication side effects are usually attached to the packaging for patients and providers to review.

Medical computers and electronic medical records

Medical computers play a large role in safe and clear medication packaging. Pharm techs can bring up patients’ electronic medical records (EMR) for their most recent prescriptions. That way, the techs can quickly note errors like possible double-orders of meds. The EMR can be set to alert staff for potential issues like drug allergies or adverse medication interactions (i.e., when two or more meds conflict with each other). 

Track and trace, or simply tracking, follows a prescription throughout the medication management system. By tracking a medication’s whereabouts, the pharmacy can ensure it reaches the right patient in the suitable form at the proper date and time. Barcode scanners and, sometimes, RFID readers attached or even built into a medical computer or tablet ensure tracking is easy and accurate. 


Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians deal with many medications and drugs daily. Many of the chemicals, solvents, or radioactive substances found in them are hazardous to human life. Antineoplastics, used for cancer treatment medications, can increase the risk of miscarriage or birth defects. Acetone is highly volatile and flammable, and hydrochloric acid can cause severe burns. 

Hospital pharmacies must make sure their staff are safe. First, all hazardous substances in the department should be placed and stored well away from common work areas. Security measures should be set up to prevent access from unauthorized personnel. A medical computer with an RFID reader and Imprivata Single Sign-on makes sure only authorized staff can open the units. 

If there’s an emergency, safety equipment like the following should be within easy reach for all pharm workers:

  • Fire extinguishers to put out any fires.
  • First-aid kits for treating minor scrapes and cuts.
  • An eye wash station to flush any chemicals from the eyes.
  • A spill kit to clean up any chemical spills. 

Some hospital pharmacies have emergency showers as part of their safety features. These are useful for washing away hazardous chemicals from any exposed flesh. Having one depends on the size of your hospital and its budget. 

Personal protection equipment (PPE)

Staff working with hazardous materials should wear personal protective equipment (PPE). Standard gear includes masks, goggles, and gloves. Compounding, especially, can pose greater risks to workers, who should be wearing PPE while working.

Material safety data sheets (MSDS)

Material safety data sheets, or MSDS, are documents dealing with hazardous materials. They are an essential part of a pharmacy’s equipment list. Each provides a slew of important information on the materials: the hazardous ingredients, the dangers they pose (flammability, explosiveness), the effects on human health, and emergency and first-aid procedures. 

Like all safety equipment in the pharmacy, MSDS should be placed where staff members can easily see and use them. 

Master Your Hospital Pharmacy Equipment List with Cybernet

Modern pharmacies are technological marvels, well-equipped to perform their duties, from dispensing medications to patients to keeping pharmacy staff safe from all the hazardous materials they deal with daily.

Contact our staff if your hospital pharmacy is looking for the best ways to equip your department. Modern healthcare is highly digital, and computers play huge roles in many aspects of medicine including the pharmacy department. Our team will be more than happy to explain how our medical computers, tablets, and other computers play essential roles in your hospital pharmacy equipment list. 

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