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A traditional clinical pharmacy service for surgical patients involves a ward visit that identifies and responds to issues after prescribing has taken place. It was hypothesised that pharmacist involvement in a general surgery pre-admission clinic (PAC) would provide elective patients with significantly better pharmaceutical care than ward visits alone.100 elective general surgery patients were recruited into 2 groups as part of a non-randomised controlled trial. The groups were comparable in terms of age, surgical procedure and use of medicines. The control group received standard ward visits. The intervention group had pharmaceutical assessment in a pre-admission clinic. This assessment incorporated pharmacist-led drug history taking and prescription transcription. Outcome measures: Number, classification and clinical significance of pharmaceutical interventions.A pharmacist made 76 interventions in the PAC group and 79 interventions in the ward group. No prescribing errors and omissions were made in the PAC group. The clinical significance of PAC interventions was rated more highly than ward interventions on two scales. Involvement in the PAC increased the pharmacist's workload, but saved time for surgical and nursing staff. Surgical and nursing staff identified writing discharge prescriptions as the most valuable service provided by the PAC pharmacist.By ensuring safe prescribing in the PAC group, the pharmacist was able to become more involved in clinical issues. Pharmacist involvement in PACs presents a useful opportunity for expansion of pharmacy services. However, extra resources would be needed in order to provide these services fully.