(FORTUNE Small Business) – Of all the medication errors," says Joel Osborne, the president of ForHealth Technologies in Daytona Beach, Fla., "perhaps 17% can be attributed to dispensing errors"--wrong vial, wrong patient's name. So he created the IntelliFill i.v., a 2,700-pound, $695,000 robot, to sharply reduce human error. In 2005, Osborne sold seven of the robots, bringing the total number in circulation to 15. Here's how the machine gives hospitals, patients, and Osborne's business a shot in the arm.
1. CONSOLE IntelliFill lists the day's orders--received via networked computers--for a technician, who scans a bar code on each vial to ensure the wrong drug isn't placed in the system. It then tells the technician exactly where to place the vial in the drug storage cabinet.
2. DRUG STORAGE CABINET The technician rescans the vial twice at its designated spot in the cabinet--another security check--then presses a button on the console that begins the syringe-filling process. The vial drops into the sterile automation deck.
3. VIAL VERIFICATION STATION Claws position the vial on a rotating pedestal, where it is verified in a series of photographs and another bar-code scan. The vial's cap is mechanically removed to prepare for the drug to be transferred into a syringe.
4. FLUID-TRANSFER STATION The drug in the vial is transferred into an empty syringe--loaded previously into the machine--which arrives at this location with its cap removed and plunger extended. After it's filled and capped, the syringe moves on.
5. LABELING STATION The syringe is affixed with a label that lists the patient's name, drug and dose, drug expiration date, the correct time to administer the medication, and a new bar code to be checked with bedside scanning equipment.
6. WEIGHT CONFIRMATION STATION The syringe is weighed to confirm that it contains the correct volume of fluid. If the weight doesn't conform to standards, the syringe is automatically routed to the reject bin.
7. OUTPUT CONVEYOR BELT The labeled, filled syringes roll out, ready to be distributed to patients.