The Crucial Role of Aseptic Dispensing in IPAC

Words by Sanjaya Mani Dixit 


In the healthcare system, where infections pose a persistent threat, pharmacists too have their role to play when it comes to infection prevention and control. Aseptic dispensing stands as a cornerstone in this pursuit, ensuring the safety and well-being of patients by mitigating the risk of contamination and infection transmission. This article delves into the significance of aseptic dispensing within the broader context of infection prevention and control, highlighting the pivotal role pharmacies play in safeguarding public health.


Healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) are infections people get while they are receiving health care for another condition. Healthcare associated infections contribute significantly to patient morbidity and mortality. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), at any given time, around 7% of patients in developed countries and 10% in developing countries acquire at least one healthcare-associated infection. Patients in healthcare settings are often immunocompromised due to illness, surgery, or underlying conditions, making them more susceptible to infections. Contaminated medications or equipment can pose severe risks to these vulnerable individuals. When medications become tainted with microorganisms during manufacturing, compounding, or handling processes, they can lead to infections in vulnerable individuals. Contaminated medicines not only compromise the efficacy of treatment but also heighten the risk of healthcare-associated infections. Such incidents can lead to severe consequences, ranging from localized outbreaks to widespread public health concerns.


Understanding Aseptic Dispensing:

Aseptic dispensing refers to the meticulous technique of preparing and handling medications in a sterile environment to prevent microbial contamination. Aseptic preparation is the reconstitution of an injectable medicine or any other aseptic manipulation to produce a labeled ready-to-administer form of a medicine including addition of drugs to IV fluids, in accordance with a prescription provided by a practitioner, for a specific patient. The reconstitution of injectable medicines should be done in a sterile environment, away from the clinical care areas which often have high microbial load. The process involves stringent protocols, including the use of sterile equipment, proper hand hygiene, and a controlled environment to maintain sterility. By adhering to these practices, pharmacies can minimize the introduction of pathogens, thus reducing the likelihood of infections in patients.


The Link Between Aseptic Dispensing and Infection Prevention:

Infection prevention is a multifaceted endeavor, and the pharmacy domain significantly contributes to this cause through aseptic dispensing. When medications are prepared in aseptic conditions, the risk of contamination diminishes considerably. Contaminated medications can serve as vectors for infections, posing a serious threat, especially to vulnerable populations such as immunocompromised individuals or those undergoing invasive procedures. Aseptic dispensing not only safeguards individual patients but also prevents cross-contamination between patients, thereby curbing the spread of infections within healthcare facilities. It was as early as 1970 that Professor Breckenridge under the NHS recommended that aseptic preparation should preferably be undertaken in pharmacies, a position backed up by the Farwell report, but half a decade past, we still haven’t started such practices here in Nepal. Starting could be a far-fetched word where the hospital administrations haven’t even contemplated starting it in our nation for pharmacies are merely seen as distributors of medicine, if not the store houses. 


Pharmacists as Guardians of Patient Safety:

Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians serve as frontline guardians of patient safety when it comes to preparation and dispensing of injectables. Their expertise in aseptic techniques and adherence to stringent protocols ensures that medications are devoid of microbial contaminants. By upholding these standards, pharmacists bolster infection prevention efforts, contributing significantly to reducing healthcare-associated infections (HAIs).


Challenges and Innovations in Aseptic Dispensing:

In nations like Nepal, where awareness of aseptic dispensing practices is limited, several challenges and opportunities for innovation in this critical area emerge. Challenges primarily stem from inadequate infrastructure and limited resources, impeding the establishment of dedicated sterile compounding facilities. A lack of standardized guidelines and comprehensive training programs further hampers the adoption of aseptic techniques among pharmacy professionals. Additionally, limited public awareness about the importance of sterile compounding contributes to misconceptions and indifference towards aseptic dispensing practices. What is rather needed is investing in infrastructure upgrades, such as dedicated clean rooms and sterile compounding facilities, which is pivotal for enabling safe medication preparation is the need of today.


Empowering Pharmacists Through Education and Training:

Initiatives aimed at enhancing education and training for pharmacists and technicians can play a pivotal role. Collaborations between healthcare organizations, regulatory bodies, and educational institutions can facilitate the development of tailored training modules and guidelines specific to the Nepalese context.  Continuous professional development equips pharmacists and technicians with updated knowledge and skills, enabling them to navigate the complexities of sterile compounding effectively. Rigorous training not only fosters competence but also cultivates a culture of adherence to aseptic principles within pharmacy practice.


Collaboration for Enhanced Infection Control:

The synergy between pharmacy, healthcare providers, and infection control teams is paramount in fortifying infection prevention strategies. Collaboration facilitates the exchange of insights and best practices, fostering a cohesive approach to mitigate infection risks across healthcare settings. Pharmacists’ involvement in antimicrobial stewardship programs further augments infection control efforts, optimizing medication use and curbing the emergence of resistant pathogens.



In the realm of infection prevention and control, aseptic dispensing emerges as a linchpin in ensuring patient safety. There are a few things that Nepal must start to adopt the practices of aseptic dispensing. First and foremost, fostering awareness through educational campaigns aimed at healthcare professionals, policymakers, and the general public is crucial. Creating tailored training programs and workshops focused on aseptic techniques for pharmacists and technicians will be instrumental. Collaborations with international organizations and partnerships with established healthcare systems can facilitate knowledge transfer and expertise exchange. Importantly, integrating aseptic dispensing into national healthcare policies and guidelines can emphasize its significance in ensuring patient safety and contribute to raising standards in infection prevention and control across healthcare settings in developing nations like Nepal.

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