Managing patients who have been administered chemotherapy

Administration of chemotherapy may be in several ways, such as, intravenously or orally. The chemotherapy treatment will expose the caregiver with potential exposure to side effects up to seven days post administration. Guidelines have been provided from South Australia (SA) Health on management of waste post chemotherapy treatment for the caregiver, to ensure that the caregiver health is not compromised.

The waste products from the body processes means that the chemical is expelled via the hepatic and renal systems as well as through other organs, such as the skin and the gastrointestinal system such as vomitus.

Assess the risk

The hierarchy of risk control

All local institutions should process the hierarchy of risk control  when considering the use of chemotherapy in accordance with SA Health. The treatment exposes all workers with potential harmful side effects, that maybe immediate or long term.

Risk assessment is required on the safe management of waste products produced by patients, who have been administered with chemotherapy drugs and who will need to be nursed in a variety of locations. Where information not available, not a legal requirement as it is part of the therapeutic to provide information regarding the agent.

Examination of the hazards

To eliminate or replace this risk, is the first choice, however this is not possible. Therefore management of the waste will need to be part of a risk management process by isolating the individual and using appropriate and separate waste bins that will be treated differently by all, and are easily identifiable.

As patients’ waste needs to be managed by caregivers, they need to be provided with protection. Policies are created based on SA Health protocols on the reduction of exposure by providing single use personal protective equipment, such as eye glasses, purple gloves and gowns, all of which will be used on all encounters for staff to protect themselves. Ongoing training, and availability to the latest information should be available and known how to access it all times.

Submitted by Cobie George