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SP7 What should you anticipate and prepare for during a pandemic – conversion of a paediatric intensive care unit to an adult intensive care unit – a pharmacy perspective
  1. Joanne Crook,
  2. Reena Mehta
  1. Kings College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust


Aim On 12 March 2020, the COVID-19 outbreak was declared as a pandemic by the World Health Organisation.1 During this time, paediatric services saw dramatic reductions in children accessing emergency care and routine operations were cancelled, which enabled the paediatric intensive care unit (PICU) team to support the adult critical care expansion by repurposing paediatric beds to open an adult intensive care unit (AICU). Here we describe the pharmacy experience, challenges and learning outcomes faced in converting a PICU to an AICU.

Method A trust-wide multidisciplinary critical care tactical group including pharmacy representation was established to coordinate strategy planning, troubleshoot operational and clinical difficulties, and manage communications on a wider scale. Within pharmacy, clinical and operational lead pharmacists led the pharmacy response and supported the front-line pharmacy teams to coordinate and make quick informed decisions to daily challenges. The challenges were made even greater by the need to co-deliver a mixed paediatric/adult unit meaning we had to ensure the safety of both the adults and children receiving medicines.

Results Paediatric pharmacy staff were upskilled by the adult critical care pharmacy team, extrapolating existing PICU knowledge and experience and expanding on key differences, as well as offering weekly shadowing opportunities. The use of a mnemonic pharmaceutical tool to review patients enabled paediatric pharmacists to ask the right questions and ensure medicines were managed appropriately. In addition, a quick reference guide to common adult drug doses, bite size educational sessions and use of an app called Clinibee® were developed to disseminate important adult learning points and new guidance. The PICU electronic prescribing system Metavision® was adapted and configured for adult dosing and administration. To reduce prescribing errors and improve safety, doctors on the unit were assigned to either managing adults or paediatric patients. Further informatic changes were required in real time in response to drug supply chain and equipment shortages and changes in clinical policies. A risk assessment of adult medicine stock holding, including high-risk medicines and location of them on the unit helped reduce the risk of mis-selection. Extra nursing support was provided by pharmacy by manufacturing ready to administer injectables and existing medicines management policies adapted. Regular check-ins and staff huddles kept staff updated and provided support where needed.

Conclusion Providing an AICU on PICU was one of the biggest challenges ever faced but provided excellent cooperation and collaboration between pharmacy teams. PICU pharmacists have a strong foundation of ICU knowledge to enable them to be redeployed to AICU. Strong clinical and operational leadership is required to navigate uncertain times when staff are working outside their normal practice. Good communication is vital, both upwards, downwards and to the front line to ensure safe ways of working. Resilience planning including staffing, drug and equipment shortages ensured that resources were prioritised. Teamwork with a dedicated focus on well-being enabled staff to be supported where needed and ensured our patients received the most clinically effective care.


  1. World Health Organization. Who announces COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic, 2020. Available: WHO/Europe | Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak - WHO announces COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic, accessed 13/8/21

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