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Video: Drug Vending Machines Take Off

By Ariel Nagi 09/14/11

Illinois is the latest state to introduce time-saving automated pharmacies to emergency rooms.

Vending machines containing snacks and drinks are so last century—now they widely dispense prescription drugs. Blue Island Hospital in Chicago is the first venue in Illinois to join the club of hospitals across about 30 other states that now employ 24-hour prescription drug vending machines. The machine in question—called "InstyMeds"—is stacked with drugs commonly prescribed for emergency room patients, with the goal of saving them the hassle of searching for a pharmacy at all hours when they're sent home from the ER. Docs register prescription details and insurance info electronically, and patients can then pay at the machines using a credit or debit card. The convenience of the machines has made them hugely popular. But is the automation of medication safe? Perhaps not 100%. After all, falling vending machines famously kill more Americans than man-eating sharks each year.

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