Safety Considerations and Safe Handling of Oral Chemotherapy Agents

Elaine Griffin

antineoplastic agents, hazardous substances, safety
CJON 2003, 7(6), 25-29. DOI: 10.1188/03.CJON.S6.25-29

As a class of drugs, chemotherapy agents have two unique features. They have low therapeutic indexes, which places patients at an increased risk for medication errors, and they are considered hazardous drugs, which places patients and nurses at risk for environmental exposure. Policies and procedures for handling and administering oral chemotherapy agents are essential to promoting patients' and nurses' safety. Risk-reduction measures for administering oral chemotherapy in nontraditional healthcare settings, such as the home, require instituting a two-person dose-verification system, educating everyone who will administer and handle these agents, and developing procedures for securely and appropriately storing oral chemotherapy agents. Currently, no standardized guidelines exist for handling oral chemotherapy agents, and institutions must develop their own policies and procedures. This article discusses oral chemotherapy safety considerations, including safe handling of these agents, and offers recommendations for practice.

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