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Resource type: Article


The pharmacy team includes clinical pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and sometimes pharmacy assistants.One of their key roles is to make sure that the medications you are taking are as safe as possible (e.g. in terms of the dose, the way it's given, how often it's given, if there are any side effects, or if any of the drugs you're taking interact with one another) and tailored to your individual needs.They will be able to answer any questions you might have about your medications.

Reviewing medication 

When you are first transferred from ICU to the hospital wards

The pharmacy team will take a full history of your medication.It's common for some of patients' normal medicines to be stopped on admission to Intensive Care, or for new ones to be started.The pharmacist will offer advice on whether or not any new medicines should continue or be stopped, or whether and when you can start taking your previous medications.

Throughout your ward stay

The pharmacy team visit the wards daily, from Monday to Friday and sometimes over the weekends. They will continue to review your medication, together with the doctors and nurses, to make sure that the medications you are taking are appropriate and as safe as possible. For example, they can help ensure that any antibiotics you have been prescribed are apropriate in treating a particular type of infection, and that you are not allergic to them.

They will ensure that any medication is tailored to your individual needs.The way your body deals with medication can change when you have been very unwell. It may be, for example, that some medications that were previously given intravenously (into a vein or "drip") can now be given by mouth, or that the dose of a particular medication needs to be tailored on a daily basis.  

Discharge planning

The pharmacy team will also be involved in your discharge planning. A member of the team will speak with you before you go home about any new tablets, including what they're for, how and when to take them and any side-effects to look out for.If there are any changes in the dose of some of the medications you were taking before you ended up in Intensive Care, he/she should explain this too.

Your hospital discharge letter will include a list of any medications you were taking at hospital discharge, and you should normally be given around a week's worth of medication.If you are taking complex medications or a medication that may not be widely available, the pharmacy team should liaise with your GP or community pharmacist to support your ongoing supply. You should then speak your GP and/or your community pharmacist to arrange an ongoing supply of medication, and to check if any of the drugs you were previously taking need to be restarted.