Pharmacy provides a variety of services to the neonatal department. A daily visit to NICU and SCBU by a specialist paediatric pharmacist takes place Monday - Friday. The role of this pharmacist is to check all the prescriptions and ensure that dosages and administration of medicines are suitable for each baby. Checking the medicine dosages is extremely important as pre-term babies cope with medicines very differently to term babies, children and adults. Some medicines require blood tests to be taken to check that the correct amount of medication is being given. The pharmacist will check to ensure that these blood tests have been taken and to check the results and if necessary be available to advise on any dose changes. The pharmacist is available to provide advice to the doctors, nursing team and also parents on any aspects of medicines management e.g. whether a mother can breastfeed or express breast milk if they are taking medication.

Many of the medicines which we use for babies will have been designed for adult patients and the pharmacist will advise on how these medicines can be given to babies, or if special liquid preparations can be supplied. As a baby is prepared for discharge the pharmacist will be involved with organising medicines to take home. In some cases the pharmacist may contact the community pharmacist where prescriptions will be dispensed after the baby leaves the hospital to help provide information to ensure that the baby does not run out of medication. The pharmacist is also involved with assisting nursing and medical staff with reviewing policies and guidelines where medicines are involved to ensure that staff have up to date information and provide information to help staff administer medicines safely.

The neonatal pharmacist is supported by a number of other staff in pharmacy. Some babies may require TPN (Total Parenteral Nutrition) which is a way of feeding the baby by a drip. The TPN is prepared in a specially designed clean room in pharmacy by staff trained to prepare this solution. These staff will check the TPN orders which are requested by the doctors and provide advice to both doctors and nurses on TPN.

The inpatient dispensary is where a baby’s discharge medicines are prepared. A number of different staff type work here including pharmacy assistants, pharmacy technicians and pharmacists. These staff ensure that medicines are dispensed safely and accurately, ready for when the baby is discharged. As the dispensary is involved with supplying inpatient and discharge medicines for the whole Trust, it usually supplies more than 200 prescriptions or medicine orders each day.

Our Central pharmacy department work hard to ensure that the neonatal clinical areas are stocked with the medicines which are commonly used. A pharmacy assistant visits NICU twice a week to check which medicines need to be supplied by pharmacy.

Finally, you may wonder what happens if someone needs a supply of a medicine or advice out of hours. A resident pharmacist is available via a bleep and is able to organise supplies of urgent medicines or provide advice to doctors and nursing staff.

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