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A day in the life of a hospital pharmacy team in a Portuguese cancer centre
  1. Bruno Costa
  1. Correspondence to Dr Bruno Costa, Serviços Farmacêuticos, Instituto Português de Oncologia Francisco Gentil do Porto, EPE, Rua Dr. António Bernardino de Almeida, 4200 ? 072 Porto, Portugal; bruno.costa{at}

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Early in the morning, our hospital admits the first outpatients of the day and the cancer centre opens its doors. The pharmaceutical department must be ready by 08:00 h when patients, families, caregivers and employees start to arrive.


The first task of the day in the pharmaceutical department is to prepare the agents used in chemotherapy. A pharmacist organises the preparation of cytostatic drugs for intravenous administration and transfers them to the relevant departments; speed of response is very important as most of the drugs are destined for outpatients. The pharmacist is responsible for using safe routines and integrated procedures to ensure physical, chemical and microbiological quality, and operator safety. One laminar flow cabinet is used initially, with up to three more recruited during the morning.

The centralisation of chemotherapy production to one location in our hospital has resulted in several advantages including greater accuracy and better operator safety. Closer coordination between the pharmaceutical department and clinical care services was also necessary to ensure the timely delivery of chemotherapy drugs.

Efficient inventory management is also important as staff work on preparing orders and delivering products. The pharmacy and therapeutics committee meets frequently to select the portfolio …

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.