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Updated: Thu, 07/18/2024 - 18:12

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What’s the role of the pharmacy at The Neuro?

Anne-Marie Charbonneau Allard, a pharmacist at The Neuro, gives us an insight into daily life at her work.

Every morning when she arrives at 8 a.m., The Neuro’s pharmacist Anne-Marie Charbonneau Allard turns on her computer to see all the prescriptions sent to the pharmacy the night before. She classes them by priority to make sure the urgent ones are delivered to the floors first.

She then checks all the other prescriptions, before sending them to the technicians to prepare. Around 9 a.m., once all the inpatient medications are sent to the floors, Anne-Marie moves onto the clinical study prescriptions.

The Neuro’s pharmacy serves a variety of patients. Medications for all the inpatients at the hospital are provided by the pharmacy. Outpatient clinics and units such as radiology are also served by the pharmacy.

Patients requiring special medications that are not commercially available in Canada are made available by the pharmacy as well. Medications needed in the operating room are supplied by the pharmacy, including medications for anesthesia.

"Pharmacists are specialists in making sure the medication a patient is taking is best for their condition." - Anne-Marie Charbonneau Allard

Once the prescriptions arrive at the pharmacy, “we make sure the medication prescribed is not only at a good dose in general but also for the patient's renal and liver function,” says Anne-Marie. The pharmacist also makes sure there is “no interaction with other medication the patient is taking or that the dose is adjusted when possible if there's interaction.”

Pharmacists at the ICUs and the Stroke Unit continuously monitor patients’ renal and liver function, blood pressure and heart rate, and adjust the medications as required.

Over time, treatments have become more medicated, making it “more complex for doctors to know what medication and doses are most adequate” for a patient, she points out. Pharmacists are “specialists in making sure the medication a patient is taking is best for their condition.” For Anne-Marie, one of the roles of the pharmacist is the “optimization” of patient therapy.

The Neuro’s pharmacy fills about 60,000 prescriptions annually. It is open seven days a week all throughout the year. 

Then, there is consultation. Anne-Marie and other pharmacists answer questions from nurses and doctors regarding several aspects of medication. She gives a common example: A patient cannot take pills by mouth and requires a tube. Can the medication be crushed? What is the correct formulation?

The pharmacy is part of several committees at the McGill University Health Centre, such as the ethics committee for clinical research, and the pharmacy and therapeutics committee for directives and evaluation of the use of medication.

The pharmacy is responsible for the mandatory reporting of serious and adverse drug reactions to Health Canada. It also reports unusual side effects of a medication to the authorities.

The work of a pharmacist is as complex as it is crucial. Luckily, The Neuro has Anne-Marie and her team to thank for their diligent work in assuring the hospital’s nurses and doctors receive the right medications for their patients.



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The Neuro (Montreal Neurological Institute-Hospital) is a bilingual academic healthcare institution. We are a McGill research and teaching institute; delivering high-quality patient care, as part of the Neuroscience Mission of the McGill University Health Centre. We are proud to be a Killam Institution, supported by the Killam Trusts.



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