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How The Pyxis Machine Works And Why It’s Used

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By Johnny Bevers

For many that have medical background and knowledge, an introduction to the Pyxis Machine (more commonly known as the Pyxis MedStation system) may not be necessary.  But for the remainder of us that sincerely had or have not heard of it before, the following article has been constructed to give you a quick history and understanding about this perhaps controversial medical device and what the future may hold in store for it in the medical industry.

What Exactly Is The Pyxis Machine?

Courtesy of Care Fusion photo of pyxis

Courtesy of Care Fusion

The MedStation System or “Pyxis Machine” is a product that was originally first manufactured and introduced commercially through a San Diego, California based company named the Pyxis Corporation around 1989-90.  For six or seven years the system was not generally a huge success and by 1996 an organization in Ohio known as Cardinal Health managed to obtain the rights to the machine from Pyxis Corporation.  By 2009, Cardinal Health became a separate company that was openly changed and would go on to become CareFusion.

Today, the Pyxis MedStation has become a foremost computerized dispensing device which operates to proficiently assist in supporting the handling of medications.  Plainly stated, it was designed to help nurses avoid giving out the wrong medication and amounts to each and every specific patient.  Its additional purpose is also to lower the expenses that a hospital pharmacy is subjected to for the ability to maintain its own stock and reordering of medications.  Furthermore, the Pyxis MedStation enhances the accessibility of any billing or invoicing as well as utilizing data which in turn will improve the performance of the hospital workforce in production and capabilities.

How Exactly Does The Pyxis Machine Work?

The Pyxis MedStation uses barcode scanning technology to aid in the assuring that the correct medication has been loaded before the patient receives it.  It also works to prevent the wrong placements of medication when re-supplying is necessary.  It consists of a safety measure for any medicines that are labeled as “high risk.”  This is absolutely critical for the obvious reason that if a patient receives the wrong prescription, then they may have an allergic reaction.  If the dosage is incorrect then the medication may be unproductive due to lack of effectiveness through the quantity or it may be too much, which can easily result in an overdose fatality.  The Pyxis MedStation effectively provides warning when any errors may occur.

The expertise of the Pyxis MedStation makes it very straightforward for hospital personnel to locate the desired medication through its only central point of dispensation.  In turn, this saves considerable time because there will be no cupboard or cabinet searching involved.  The Pyxis MedStation also keeps careful records of each and every in and out transaction so extremely limited manual record keeping, supply counting or pharmacy notifications for restocking will be necessary.

Pros And Cons Of Installing The Pyxis Machine In Your Hospital


With every new form of technology and system will come hopes of improving as much as possible in an assigned area or task.  There will however likely be some disadvantages that come with the package as well.  When installing a Pyxis MedStation in your hospital, the requirements of an entirely new program must be set up.  This can be time consuming and troublesome in the beginning.  This goes without having already mentioned that many members of a workforce team are not usually excited about change.

In the beginning of this new process, the pharmacy will be obliged to identify and appoint an employee who will be designated to function and provide service as a “Superuser.”  This position brings with it the responsibility of assigning and maintaining the user IDs and the password information.  Further tasks such as authorizing others to use the Pyxis Machine system by having them complete an assignment form will need to be carried out during the orientation procedure. Due to the Pyxis MedStation’s elevated biometric (fingerprinting) security features, when hospital personnel are unable to access them successfully, it will be compulsory for them to get authorization from the Pharmacy Director to use the machine with a password only.  There are also time restrictions on these passwords that are given to each individual employee that will expire at various appointed times.  As you can begin to plainly see, time consumption and a troublesome process must ordinarily be adhered to when operating the Pyxis MedStation.


Fortunately the benefits of this device should far outweigh the disadvantages.  Regarding the machine itself, it has been widely reported from those who use the Pyxis regularly that it has a flexible and durable configuration, the cubies and mini-drawers set the standard, it requires very minimal maintenance and it remains user friendly which makes it quite simple to train new employees on.

Many reviews have continually stated that the support teams that provide hospitals with the Pyxis MedStation are extremely friendly and invaluable when it  comes to maintenance and servicing.

Why Hospital Management Loves the Pyxis Machine

Without repeating anything previously mentioned, hospital staff have been delighted to declare that the Pyxis Machine is extremely reliable across the board.  It is comprised of a wealth of knowledge embedded in the company staff.  The variation of parts (such as drawer types) and the clinical alert features make it a necessity that leaves many users puzzled as to how anyone could ever continue to go without using one.

Some hospitals gave specific numbers such as 94% of pharmacist time being saved simply because of the Pyxis Machine’s proficiency.  Another figure explains that weekly inventory time by each nurse is cut down easily by 15 minutes.


“Pyxis has been a great product for our hospital.  Until last year, we had been using the pyxis 2000 model and it was still better than most current systems.  The support staff were excellent in keeping the machine running that long.  We have upgraded to the 4000 system and could not be happier.”

“I really like Pyxis over other ADCs available.  Very easy to use with simple interface.  The only problem I ever encountered was drawers not closing or malfunctioning due to abuse by others or not properly putting the meds back in, causing it not to close.”

“Only have experience with Pyxis Medstation 2000.  Customer service has always been prompt when using the online service order form.  The field techs do seem stretched thin and it could be a day or two before he comes in to look at the machine; however in emergent situations he would always come in.  The machines can be slow; especially when rebooting.  Seemed as if there were always drawer failures or pocket failures, but these were usually easily remedied.”

“We’ve had the Pyxis for years, got the fingerprint type in the last year.  It is so much better than counting narcs each shift.  There are still discrepancies at times but usually easily resolved more so than without a Pyxis type machine.”

“Overall a decent product. It is a simple system to use and train staff to troubleshoot or manage.  Loading and unloading can be done at the machine which can be helpful.  There are certain reports that can only be printed, instead of just viewed if you want a quick look at a situation.  My biggest concern is that they do not have enough Field Service Technicians to respond timely to service requests.”

*Feedback came courtesy of the following websites:

– AllNurse.com

– Konvoke.com

If you’ve had any experience with the Pyxis Machine, please drop us a comment and let us know how it’s working out for you.

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