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Sydney Children's Hospital Pharmacist

Since 2007, Kids with Cancer Foundation Australia have provided the funding
to employ the Oncology Pharmacist at Sydney Children's Hospital 

Pharmacist's play a vital role in the care for children with cancer and are an important part of the cancer health care team. The  role of the Oncology Pharmacist encompasses a wide range of activities.

These include prescribing:

  • Chemotherapy of all patients treated at SCH is almost always prescribed on the basis of protocol. These protocols detail the combination of drugs to be used including doses, routes and methods of administration. These protocols can be very complex and there is a potential for a variety of prescribing errors. Chemotherapy drugs are powerful agents where a small error can lead to toxicity on one hand or inadequate dosing on the other. The supervision of all chemotherapy prescribing by a Pharmacist minimises the potential for these medication errors.
  • Chemotherapy (inpatient, including BMT and outpatient) is routinely prescribed by rotational junior medical staff under the supervision of the Pharmacist.
  • The pharmacist plays an important and significant role in reviewing all medications prescribed by Clinicians, this includes all inpatient and outpatient chemotherapy, supportive drug therapies (antibiotics, antiemetics, total parenteral nutrition) and discharge medications.
  • In addition to supervision of chemotherapy prescribing, the oncology pharmacist in the acute care setting conducts a daily medication chart review. Oncology patients are routinely treated with a multitude of medications and supportive therapies. This chart review is an essential function to improve and promote the quality of use of medicines in a cancer care setting. Pharmacist's check all medication doses are safe to administer, advise on compatibilities of intravenous drugs and monitor for drug interactions and side effects. This assists in minimising medication errors.

These role's perform by the Pharmacist's will ensure the correct drug is administer to the correct patient at the correct dose on the correct day.

Medication Dispensing:

  • Pharmacist's are responsible for the co-ordination and dispensing of chemotherapy for all children cared for by CCC&BD.
  • The dispensing of chemotherapy involves a number of steps that requires pharmacy expertise. Important to this is the preparation of these medications in an aseptic environment.
  • As chemotherapy agents are toxic adequate procedures are required to protect all staff involved in dispensing. This is an extremely labour intensive and timely process requiring medications to be dispensed in a special cabinet in a clean room environment whilst the operator is gowned in appropriate personal protective equipment. This insures the sterility of the product for the patient and protect the environment and operator from harmful effects.


Patient Education

The pharmacist plays an important role in the treatment of children with cancer by providing valuable information and support for the patient and their family.  

This includes information on chemotherapy and managing side effects, such as nausea and vomiting, mucositis, diarrhoea and constipation as well as safe handing techniques.

  • Educating patients about the use and potential misuse of chemotherapy is critical to patient safety and compliance. It is recommended that all patients receiving chemotherapy be counselled by an oncology pharmacist.
  • Pharmacist's also play an important role in advising patients and caregivers on oral chemotherapy with respect to correct administration, handling and disposal. This is an essential service as a large proportion of children with cancer are treated with oral chemotherapy in the home setting.
  • Cancer can be a traumatic experience for a family and verbal communication can not often relay enough information at the appropriate time. Written medication information and protocol progress sheets are provided by the Pharmacist to ensure that all involved are sufficiently informed to obtain optimal outcome. 


  • Pharmacists ensure that medical staff have access to appropriate and up to date medicines information for the treatment for children with cancer.  Drug information queries are fielded and reported on a regular basis.
  • Pharmacists provide education for nursing staff on drug therapies and safe administration techniques.
  • Formal education to parents is provided at patient education seminars run by the CCC&BD.

Further information

We urge you to consider the children in a hospital near you.  Please donate, post cheques to: Kids with Cancer Foundation, PO Box 135 Westmead NSW 2145 or for credit cards: free-call any donations to 1800 255522, and we guarantee that 100% of these donations will be passed to families, or use this Donate now button or at the top of the page.

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