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Working hard behind the scenes of the Mater Intensive Care Unit is the Pharmacy Team, comprised of highly trained experts who are tasked with reviewing the medication for all ICU patients, their role is integral yet often does not get the recognition it deserves.
The Pharmacy Team need to review the medications a patient has already been taking and balance this against the new medications a patient needs now, often while the patient themselves are in a critical situation unable to speak or think clearly.
ICU Pharmacist Tara Morrison says the primary role of the team is to promote the safe and effective use of medication and provide correct information about medication to clinicians, nurses, patients and carers. We work as part of a team with the doctors and nurses to provide you with the best possible care.
“We play a crucial role advising our doctors on the most appropriate medications for a patient while taking into account pre-existing and current medical conditions, current medications, allergies and any other factors which may impact them,” Tara said.
“Our team work closely with the nurses advising them on appropriate administration of medicines especially when it comes to intravenous compatibilities and the appropriate formulations for use when patients cannot swallow, which is very common in ICU.
“To ensure the medication we have given a patient is appropriate and working for them we regularly review your vital signs such as blood pressure, heart rate and urine output which the nursing staff will measure regularly. We also check their blood test results and are able to make changes and adjustments to medication as needed.”
Tara said that while it can be a daunting experience to come to the ICU, the patient or their loved ones should know they are most welcome to ask questions of the Pharmacy Team.
“Our team are always happy to talk a patient or their loved one through the medication we are giving them. Never be afraid to ask questions or let us know if something is not working for you,” Tara said.
“Most patients don’t expect to come to the ICU, however if possible having your current medication with you, or having a loved one to bring it in for you will help us manage your medications appropriately.
“Finally, we share handover of issues to be followed up with the next pharmacist to take over a patients care. Many regular medications a patient may have taken normally may not be suitable in the short term especially if a patient has had a big operation. These medications often get started back after leaving ICU. It’s important patients are aware of and understand any medication changes both during their stay in hospital and on discharge. The ICU and ward pharmacists will help with this. Patients should contact their doctor if they have any concerns after going home.”
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