April 29, 2013

MEDICINE: How a Serial-Killing Night Nurse Hacked Hospital Drug Protocol. “Cullen was the master of a new machine that hospitals started using to track and distribute drugs, a computerized cabinet called a Pyxis MedStation. Manufactured by an Ohio company called Cardinal Health, the machine is essentially a metal drug cash register with a computer screen and keyboard affixed to the top. Not all the nurses were comfortable with the new computerized element of nursing care, but Cullen enjoyed it. He’d worked aboard nuclear submarines, and he’d always been good with the technical devices. He appreciated how the machine efficiently tracked a nurse’s drug withdrawals, linking each with the account of a particular patient and nurse to create a record. Hospital administrators relied on Pyxis to simplify billing while allowing the pharmacy to know exactly when any given drug was running low. But like any new technology, it was just a tool, one in the service of an intimate art practiced by real people with flaws of their own.”