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Hospital pharmacist: Job description

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Hospital pharmacists work in a hospital pharmacy service, primarily within the public sector. They are experts in the field of medicines and are not only responsible for the dispensing of prescriptions but also the purchase, manufacture and quality testing of all medicines used in a hospital. Many hospital pharmacists are qualified to prescribe in their own right.

Pharmacists work closely with medical and nursing staff to ensure that patients receive the best treatment, advising on the selection, dose and administration route. They also provide help and advice to patients in all aspects of their medicines.

The role of a hospital pharmacist can extend outside the hospital with responsibility for medicines in health centres, nursing homes, hospices and general practitioners' (GP) surgeries.

Typical work activities

Hospital pharmacists are medicine experts and tasks may include:

  • checking prescriptions to ensure that there are no errors and that they are appropriate and safe for the individual patient;
  • providing advice on the dosage of medicines and the most appropriate form of medication, for example, tablet, injection, ointment or inhaler;
  • participating in ward rounds, taking patient drug histories and involvement in decision-making on appropriate treatments;
  • liaising with other medical staff on problems patients may experience when taking their medicines;
  • discussing treatments with patients' relatives, community pharmacists and GPs;
  • ensuring medicines are stored appropriately and securely;
  • supervising the work of less experienced and less qualified staff;
  • answering questions about medicines from within the hospital, other hospitals and the general public;
  • keeping up to date with, and contributing to, research and development;
  • writing guidelines for drug use within the hospital and implementing hospital regulations;
  • providing information on expenditure on drugs;
  • preparing and quality-checking sterile medications, for example, intravenous medications;
  • setting up and supervising clinical trials.

More experienced pharmacists may be involved in teaching, both within the pharmacy department and in other areas of the hospital.

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Written by AGCAS editors
February 2014

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