Should You Wear a Gown to Disconnect Chemo?
The short answer is yes—guidelines from ONS, National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and U.S. Pharmacopia all call for nurses to always wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) when at risk for exposure, including disconnecting a patient’s chemotherapy. Wearing a gown and other PPE isn’t just good practice—it protects nurses at one of many touchpoints during chemotherapy administration and patient care where healthcare providers are at risk for exposure to hazardous drugs.
Handle With Care: How USP <800> Will Affect Nursing Practice
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.
What Oncology Nurses Need to Know About USP <800>
Because of the risks and dangers associated with hazardous drugs, guidelines surrounding their use and handling have been issued since 1981. Since then, several organizations, including ONS (in tandem with the American Society of Clinical Oncology), the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, have released guidelines for various providers who handle the drugs.
What Are ONS’s Recommendations for Safe Handling of Hazardous Drugs?
Research suggests that healthcare workers who handle hazardous drugs may experience acute effects such as skin rashes or more chronic effects including adverse reproductive events and malignancy. This has led numerous government agencies to make recommendations regarding the safe handling of hazardous drugs.
What Oncology Nurses Need to Know About Immunotherapy Agents
As immunotherapeutic options for cancer treatments continue to grow, oncology nurses need a deeper understanding of the therapies, how they work, and how to manage their side effects, so they can continue to provide the best patient care.
The Importance of Respiratory Protection for Oncology Nurses
Oncology nurses are at an increased risk of exposure to airborne hazards when they’re administering cytotoxic treatments and caring for immunosuppressed patients that are susceptible to resistant infections. Airborne transmission occurs through small particles or droplet nuclei that remain in the air for extended periods of time. Healthcare organizations are expected to provide sufficient respiratory protection for workers potentially exposed to infectious organisms and hazardous agents.
What You Wear Matters When It Comes to Safety
“Hey, you didn’t dress up for me today. Where’s your pretty blue dress?”
At first I wasn’t sure what the patient in the chemotherapy chair was talking about. After a moment, I realized the patient was referring to the blue safety gowns we wear. I heard the infusion nurse respond as she removed the chemotherapy from the hazard bag, “Oh yeah, I’m kind of in a hurry today.”
While the patient could possibly benefit from the chemotherapy, for the nurse that same drug posed a serious hazard.