How are you taking care of yourself? It’s a question I’ve asked many team members, including leaders I have had the privilege of serving, over the course of my career. I’ve even added this question into certain candidate interviews to assess resiliency in individuals. And of course I ask it of myself often. That’s because it is my professional responsibility to ensure I am caring for myself. Provision 5 of the Code of Ethics for Nurses says, “The nurse owes the same duties to self as to others, including the responsibility to promote health and safety.”
Oncology nurses are dedicated to providing the best, safest cancer care to their patients—protecting them from medical harm and prolonging life. But when it comes to protecting themselves, nurses sometimes take shortcuts in wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) that guards them against exposure to hazardous drugs.
Police officers wear body armor and construction workers wear hard hats. Why? Because these professions carry inherent dangers in the line of duty—and oncology nursing does too. Statistically, healthcare workers face more workplace-related dangers than both law enforcement and construction, yet attention to safety and personal protection isn’t always a central focus. This can be especially true in cancer care, where nurses are required to administer hazardous drugs (HDs) and handle dangerous medications on a daily basis. Although safety recommendations exist, few enforceable standards are protecting nurses handling HDs.
Venetoclax (Venclexta®) was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on May 15, 2019, for the treatment of adult patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) or small lymphocytic lymphoma (SLL) as a single agent or in combination therapy. Previously, it had been approved in late 2018 for use in combination therapy for acute myeloid leukemia (AML) in older adults or those with significant comorbidities.
Doug is a 48-year-old triathlete who was recently diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) after a routine blood test showed an increase in white blood cells and a subsequent bone marrow biopsy showed greater than 20% blast cells. The medical oncologist prescribed the oral drug dasatinib. Doug and his wife meet with Staci, RN, to receive oral therapy education. During the teaching, Doug says his wife will have no trouble dispensing the dasatinib because she already prepares all of their meals and nutritional supplements.