Preparing your IV chemotherapy

preparing your IV chemotherapyIt might seem like a lot of waiting when you come to the Cancer Center for infusion, but there is good reason. Pharmacists and technicians have important roles in preparing each dose of chemotherapy, making your safety our top priority.

Everything starts when the pharmacy receives your order, which may be written ahead of time or on the same day after you see your physician. Pharmacists prevent medication errors, advise physicians on drug choices and make sure you understand your medication.

Before your chemotherapy is mixed:

  • The pharmacist checks your height, weight and laboratory values to ensure that it is safe to proceed with treatment
  • A technician gathers all supplies needed to prepare each dose
  • A second technician mixes each item one at a time
  • A pharmacist checks the technician’s work

Pharmacy technicians are experts at mixing techniques. They follow strict rules for preparing your dose in a germ-free area, exactly as ordered. Pharmacists take additional measures to verify your order:

  • It is checked to be sure it is the right medication in the right dose, given through the right route in the right amount of time
  • The medications are checked for potential drug interactions

The infusion pharmacy at the Cancer Center mixes between 150-300 doses of medication a day.

Editor’s note: this summer, the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center is introducing new technologies to improve patient care. These include the use of barcodes on patient wristbands that confirm details of the medication (including IV chemotherapy) order, and a move away from paper to have fully electronic chemotherapy orders. In July, the summer 2014 issue of Thrive will be published – it contains full details on these improvements.

Take the next step:

  • Read more articles like this in the Thrive archive.
  • Learn about the broad range of patient and family services available at our Cancer Center.

Kelly Wright, R.Ph., M.S.

Kelly Wright, R.Ph., M.S.

The Cancer Center’s Symptom Management and Supportive Care Program helps patients maintain independence and increase comfort by managing the symptoms of cancer and the side effects of its treatment. The program is designed to assist patients at any stage in their cancer treatment. To make an appointment, call 877-907-0859.



University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer CenterThe University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center’s 1,000 doctors, nurses, care givers and researchers are united by one thought: to deliver the highest quality, compassionate care while working to conquer cancer through innovation and collaboration. The center is among the top-ranked national cancer programs, and #1 in Michigan for cancer patient care. Seventeen multidisciplinary clinics offer one-stop access to teams of specialists for personalized treatment plans, part of the ideal patient care experience. Patients also benefit through access to promising new cancer therapies.