Oncology Pharmacy - Processes Build for Maximum Safety
For Pharmacy Supervisor David Cruce and his staff, there are no shortcuts.
David Cruce, PharmD
Located on the second floor of the Mitchell Memorial Cancer Center, the oncology pharmacy team knows the safety of their patients is their top priority.
“We have chemotherapy treatment plans reviewed by the doctor, by one pharmacist clinically before it gets to me, and then I review it again,” Cruce said. “We scan the product into the computer to make sure we’ve selected the right item. I physically check it before it goes into the bag.”
There is no substitute for diligence, Cruce said.
“There’s zero tolerance for errors in this department,” Cruce said. “It’s tedious, it’s precise and it has to be followed to a T. I’m very proud of the safety record we have here. You want to make sure things are correct, and that’s something we take a lot of pride in.”
"We take over therapies for people that have gone to the top cancer centers in the country. Experts at these centers set up the procedure or protocol and then we treat the patient here," Cruce said. "There's not much we can't handle, especially if we collaborate with an outside source." That means patients can receive care close to home, Cruce said.
Chemotherapy poisons cancer cells, which means these drugs can be dangerous when not used correctly As a result, the pharmacy staff take precautions on top of precautions.
“We have a lot of safeguards. We double- glove (meaning two layers) and have all the protective equipment you would need in an area like this,” Cruce said.
Over his three decades of work, Cruce said he’s seen oncology pharmacy grow by leaps and bounds.
“We’re still using a lot of the same tried-and-true things, but the shift is to immune-activating type drugs,” Cruce said. “That’s new, more lab tests and targeting therapy based on the genetic profile. It’s only going to be more important in the future. I’d say in five to 10 years, we’ll see even more specific drugs.”
As options expanded, the oncology pharmacy kept up with the changes. That’s a big part of why the center can offer national-quality cancer care.
“You can get national-quality cancer services right here in Owensboro,” Cruce said. “That is a big benefit to our patients.”