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Preparing Your IV Chemotherapy

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

By Kelly Wright, R.Ph., M.S.,
U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center Symptom Management and Supportive Care Program

It 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. We invite you to visit the Patient Education Resource Center on B2 to grab some reading materials.

Do you have a question for the pharmacist? Email us at

Read the 2014 issue of Thrive

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Thrive Issue: 
Winter, 2014