The quest to end prescription errors is driving growth at a West Whiteland Township company that plans to expand into a larger facility in western Chester County in the spring.
Lionville Systems Inc., a maker of medication carts, pharmacy fixtures, anesthesia carts and medication cabinets for drug distribution in hospital environments, is growing at about 15 percent a year, a rate the company expects to continue for the foreseeable future.
The carts made by Lionville increasingly use swipe-card technology for security and bar code technology for ensuring prescriptions are being properly administered, said Tobin H. Williams, who with his brother Ford runs the company started by his father, William.
Lionville originally was a division of Parke David Co. until it became independent in 1980.
Originally located on Welsh Pool Road near Route 113 - hence the name Lionville - the company now is located on Commerce Drive near The Main Street at Exton retail center.
"We were the first company that made carts with keyless entry," Tobin Williams said. "We would have to be considered a leader in our little niche."
That niche has led to annual revenue in the mid $20 million range and the need for more space. Lionville has 54,000 square feet in two buildings in Exton and one in Lititz.
The company will increase that when it consolidates operations in the 75,000-square-foot manufacturing, warehouse and headquarters building in the Bellaire Business Park in Sadsbury. It hopes to be moved in by late March or early April, Williams said.
The 6.6-acre property that fronts Stewart Huston Drive was sold for $575,000.
Lionville Systems employs around 100 people and plans are to increase that by about 20 during the next few years, Tobin Williams said.
The company works with hospitals around the country and has at different times sold its products to all the hospitals in the region, he said.
Williams is optimistic about future growth opportunities based on a mandate by the Federal Drug Administration that all hospital to to a bar code scanning method of administering drugs in the next year.
The FDA estimates that its new bar code rule, once implemented, will result in more than 500,000 fewer "adverse events" over the next 20 years, a 50 percent reduction in medication errors.
Here's how the bar code system will work, according to the FDA: When a patient is admitted, the hospital gives him a bar-coded identification bracelet to link him to his computerized medical record.
As required by the rule, most prescription drugs and certain over-the-counter drugs would have a bar code on their labels.
The hospital would have bar code scanners or readers that are linked to the hospital's computer system of electronic medical records.
Before a health-care worker administers a drug to the patient, the healthcare worker scans the patient's bar code. This allows the computer to pull up the patient's computerized medical record.
The health-care worker then scans the drug that the hospital pharmacy has provided to be administered to the patient. This scan informs the computer which drug is being administered.
The computer then compares the patient's medical record to the drugs being administered to ensure that they match.
If there is a problem, the computer sends an error message, and the health-care worker investigates the problem.
With the new practices, more sophisticated carts will be in demand, Williams predicted.
"This has really driven our little world," Williams said.
"They need new tools for nurses, and we've developed them."