Guidelines for the Safe Use of Automated Dispensing Cabinets

Automated dispensing cabinets (ADCs) are used by most hospitals as the primary means of drug distribution.1 While this automation is available in a variety of models from several vendors, the safe use of this type of technology can only be achieved through the adoption of standard practices and processes that are directly associated with ADC design and functionality.

ISMP’s Guidelines for the Safe Use of Automated Dispensing Cabinets were designed to support organizations (facilities and vendors) in decision making and strategic planning for the safe use of ADCs. Adoption of these best practice guidelines promote safe ADC use and represent improved medication safety practices. Core Elements of these Guidelines include:

  • Provide Ideal Environmental Conditions for the Safe Use of ADCs

  • Establish ADC System Security

  • Provide Profiled ADCs and Monitor System Overrides

  • Select and Maintain Appropriate ADC Configuration and Functionality

  • Select and Maintain Optimal ADC Inventory

  • Implement Safe ADC Stocking and Return Processes

  • Display Important Patient and Drug Information

  • Develop Procedures for Accurate ADC Withdrawal and Transfer to the Bedside for Administration

  • Provide Staff Education and Competency Validation

Organizations looking to adopt these best practices can review the entire document below.  For additional support for the implementation and adoption of safe practices associated with ADC use, check out our Consulting Services


  1. Schneider, Pedersen, Scheckelhoff, 2018


How to cite: Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP). ISMP Guidelines for the Safe Use of Automated Dispensing Cabinets. ISMP; 2019. 

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