The Advantages of Visibility with Compounding Room Design

A pharmacy with a compounding room has a lot of activity going on inside and the pharmacist in charge (PIC) is always busy running around the pharmacy. The question is, how does the PIC keep up with what’s going on inside the compounding room? Encore Scientific’s USP <800> design consultant Bryan Prince joined us recently to discuss some of his lab-design theories, which will answer the previous question. During this blog post Bryan will focus on the importance of visibility when designing a compounding room.


Checks and Balances

Visibility for the PIC is the number one reason to consider a more visual compounding room design. If the PIC is also the pharmacy owner, then that person is incredibly busy trying to run many aspects of the daily business. Really the visible design goal is to minimize the number of times the PIC has to go in and out of a compounding room where chemicals are being actively handled and manipulated. By adding windows to the wall separating the compounding room from the outside space this will mean that the PIC doesn’t always need to don personal protective equipment (PPE) for checks and verifications. Consider the cost associated of USP <800> PPE requirements with rear tying gowns, double shoes covers, hair bouffant, etc. which are disposable. If the PIC has to consistently interject themselves into hazardous drug handling room for constant checks and verifications, then expenses go up as well. Collaboration between the PIC or even non-compounding personnel is key between those technicians working in the compounding room so visibility plays an important role in that as well.


Natural Light is Good for People

Do you want more productive employees? Numerous studies have shown that employees exposed to natural light sources are more productive. Technicians will also deal well with depth perception by being able to view outside the compounding room. Sometimes four walls surrounded by overhead cabinets can feel a little like a dungeon. Additionally, the more natural light you can get into a space the less electrical light you need to introduce. If you combine natural light and energy efficient LED lighting, then the operational cost could be decreased. Although not recommended, sometimes exterior glass is part of the compounding room and so we offer up two cautions. First make sure the exterior glass is dual-pane and has energy coating (called low-emissivity) or tinting to decrease the amount of heat gain in the compounding room because glass naturally acts as a magnifier of heat. The second caution is exterior glass (and even exterior walls) are not good for sterile compounding rooms. Moisture and heat transferring directly into an ISO rated environment is not a good design theory, so sterile compounding rooms should be placed in the interior of the pharmacy facility, so it is easier to control the temperature and humidity requirements.


Materials of Construction

If you are thinking about redesigning your compounding lab for USP <800> compliance, or even considering building a brand-new compounding lab, then you may be wondering how to accomplish a more open and clear-view design. There are two ways to accomplish this, modular walls or stick built walls. The USP <800> chapter states that “Due to the difficulty of cleaning HD contamination, surfaces of ceilings, walls, floors, fixtures, shelving, counters, and cabinets in the nonsterile compounding area must be smooth, impervious, free from cracks and crevices, and non-shedding.” Modular walls offer all these benefits right out of the box. Modular walls are usually more expensive but offer the most flexibility for future expansion and being able to move the wall systems if you decide to grow into another space. Modular wall systems offer glass options that are half view, three-quarter view, or even full-view glass. When discussing these options with a modular wall/cleanroom company make sure you emphasize “minimal edges.” The more edges and ledges means the more surfaces that can potentially collect dust, as well as the more surfaces you must clean.

Stick built walls are typically less expensive and comprise of standard wood pine “2×4’s” and gypsum (also commonly known as drywall). The important finishing step for the gypsum to be smooth and impervious is to use epoxy paint on the walls. Remember to research the epoxy paint and make sure it is compatible with your facility’s cleaning chemicals, as some harsh cleaners can degrade epoxy paint. In the previous paragraph we discussed using minimal edges and this also holds true if you decide to use framed glass to create a clear-view appeal. Your local glass company is probably not familiar with framed glass that has a minimal edge, so they may have to do some research on various framing options and even be coached through this process.


Encore Scientific’s USP <800> Nonsterile Compliant Hood

Bryan was key in developing the Encore exclusive 360-degree view USP <800> compliant powder hood, aligning with his design theory of creating clear-view spaces. By designing a hood that is completely see-through, the pharmacy can push them up against glass without the PIC losing visibility. Encore Scientific’s USP <800> compliant hood has a “redundant HEPA” filtration system which will allow for recirculation of clean air back into the nonsterile compounding room. The hood’s energy efficient motor is low voltage and combined with two 3” deep pleated HEPA filters will equal long filter life, less ongoing maintenance, and lower operating costs. For more information, contact Encore at