Healthwise: Sterile Compounding

By: Stephanie Satchell Email
By: Stephanie Satchell Email

July 18, 2012

After suiting up and walking through several doors, you’ll find the brand new sterile compounding area at Martha Jefferson Hospital where IVs are prepared and picked up for dispensing.

“Each IV that is made is done so by the order of a physician. The physician writes what drug he wants that patient to have, how often, the dose, and the time; all those things,” said Peggy Toms, Regulatory and Quality Analyst.

It all happens in a sterile area. When working with IVs, staff says it is very important to make sure nothing is contaminated. This is because an IV goes directly into the bloodstream and the slightest contamination could be dangerous for a patient.

“Your blood stream goes everywhere: to your brain to your heart, etc,” said Toms.

Pharmacy staff go to great lengths to make sure nothing harmful gets inside the IVs. They regulate air pressure, temperature, and thoroughly clean each room with products that never leave the sterile compounding area.

“All the equipment in each of those rooms is dedicated to that room. In other words, we have a very stringent cleaning process but each room has its own equipment, its own mops, its own cleaning, its own needles syringes; nothing comes back and forth,” said Toms.

The IVs aren’t even allowed to travel back and forth; once they are made up and passed through a window, they can’t return.

On the other side of the glass, they’re barcoded and double-checked on a table to make sure they contain the correct medications and dosage. Once they are confirmed for accuracy, they’re placed in a refrigerator. Staff will then pick them up on the other side and deliver them to patients.

The IV is later scanned at the patient’s bedside to ensure that the patient is getting exactly what the doctor prescribed. The pharmacy dispenses about 250 IVs each day.

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