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Hospital work experience: The aseptics unit

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I started the day in the hospital’s new aseptics  unit which is unlicensed so they can only makeitems from a prescription for a named patient and items for other hospitalscannot be made without prescription. There is a system of rooms through which the materials pass and theynever go back on themselves to prevent clean items from becoming contaminated –for the movement of materials there are even hatches to reduce airmovement.  The issue of air movement isalso important when making the aseptic product as the operator must not movequickly to avoid disturbing the surrounding air which could cause an increasein the displacement of particles carrying bacteria. 

The hospital has 8 isolators and rooms to make cytotoxicchemotherapy, CIVAS (central IV additive service), radiopharmaceutical itemsand total parenteral nutrition.  At themoment they can only make the cytotoxic and CIVAS products.  The airpressure in each room is carefully controlled to ensure there is nocontamination and in most cases negative pressure is used which also preventsthe product from becoming contaminated. However, in the case of chemotherapy products air pressure is used toprotect the operator.  The staff makingthe products have to be in good health; even a cold sore would stop themworking.  In addition they must not useany make-up and they have to wear special clogs and theatre blues etc.  This is because many of the patients for whomthe products are made are immunocompromised. For example, aseptic staff make preparations for cystic fibrosissufferers which a nurse could normally make up on the ward but the work iscarried out in the aseptics unit to reduce the risk of contamination.  They normally aim for a 2 ½ hour turnaroundtime from when a prescription request arrives.

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