Patients receiving chemotherapy and biotherapy can experience infusion-related reactions that require prompt intervention, and it is important for nurses to have a confident knowledge in how to handle these reactions. In a study, researchers sought to provide evidence-based guidelines and education to infusion nurses for the treatment of patients suffering from infusion reactions or anaphylaxis.

Denise Portz, MSN, RN, AOCNS®, ACNS-BC, a clinical nurse specialist at the ‎Froedtert Hospital in Wisconsin, presented the findings during a poster session at the ONS 42nd Annual Congress in Denver, CO. The poster was titled “Providing Oncology Infusion Nurses Evidence-Based Guidelines and Interventions to Manage Infusion Reactions and Anaphylaxis.”

Through interprofessional collaboration, an evidence-based infusion guideline was created, as well as educational sessions that would be completed by clinical nurse specialists with topics that included patient risk assessment, pathophysiology of reactions, quick identification of symptoms, early intervention, and the use of intramuscular epinephrine and bolus of intravenous fluids using pressure cuff.

Forty-eight nurses attended the educational sessions and received continuing education credit. They reported the following evaluations of the program:

  • 40 said the session was “excellent.”
  • 7 said it was “very good.”
  • 1 said it was “good.”

The majority reported having improved knowledge about understanding the different action and sequencing of drugs and the importance of early epinephrine delivery.

“Overall, creation of an evidence-based infusion reaction and anaphylaxis guideline provides clear direction for the treatment of this life-threatening event,” the researchers reported. They suggested an annual competency assessment for infusion reactions with hands-on simulation exercises, as well as the development of a documentation tool in electronic health records to assist with the identification of patients with past reactions.

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