Point Is Protection: Safety First for Oncology Health Care Professionals and Our Patients

Posted on by CDC's Safe Healthcare Blog

Guest Author: Michele E. Gaguski MSN RN AOCN CHPN APN-C

As an oncology nurse, I see the quick pace in which cancer treatment modalities continue to advance.  I attribute this rapid advancement to several factors:

  • new medications have gained approval
  • chemotherapy regimens involving multiple medications and administration methods have become mainstream
  • clinical trials continue to grow and focus on targeted therapies

This level of innovation requires health care professionals to manage complex plans of care for patients diagnosed with cancer. Clinicians must arm themselves with not only knowledge of the treatment regimens, but they must also possess the knowledge, skill, and critical thinking surrounding safe injection and administration practices.

Engagement in safety measures surrounding injection practices is pivotal to health care workers and protecting patients. Clinicians, such as nurses and pharmacists, are required to implement and integrate safe injection practices and guidelines into daily clinic workflows to uphold safety standards set forth by CDC. Such guidelines reduce the spread of infection, promote sterility of medications and intravenous solutions, and encourage using aseptic technique. This is especially important when preparing and administering high risk therapeutic agents in the oncology ambulatory setting —such as chemotherapy, hormonal agents, and blood transfusions.

The One & Only Campaign is a CDC effort to raise awareness and encourage safety adherence in the realm of injection practices, which can be applied in any ambulatory oncology setting. For example, in our work setting, nursing and pharmacy team members complete annual competency/education on infection control practices, including how to access a central line and appropriately administer medications using aseptic techniques. Some oncology nurses also participate as department representatives on our institution wide Infection Control and Sharps Safety Committees. Their involvement helps our ambulatory medical oncology department connect with the institution as a whole to maintain open communication and dialogue about best practices in safety and infection control.

Several positive outcomes that resulted from our nurses’ participation in an on-site assessment of the department was 1) additional sharps containers were placed in our infusion suite to deter nursing staff from walking a distance to discard a sharp (needle) after use and 2)  increasing the number of hand sanitizer stations in both the clinic and the infusion suite. This collaboration created a safer environment for both clinicians and patients in our practice setting.

Nurses have long known the risk associated with re-capping needles and taking short cuts such as not disinfecting vial tops properly. By helping to teach and demonstrate critical safety measures, nurses help to decrease the chance of needle sticks or patient harm and place emphasis on fundamental aseptic technique to prevent spread of infection. The Point is Protection for Health Care Professionals and Patients, so be the “ONE” who leads the way: “One Needle, One Syringe, One Use, One time!

Learn more about what the CDC is doing to Prevent Infections in Cancer Patients

Download or order one of CDC’s newest resources for outpatient oncology facilities: Injection Safety Reminders for Oncology Providers (Fact Sheet).

In addition to the One & Only Campaign, CDC’s Preventing Infections in Cancer Patients program uses practical guidance and resources for patients, caregivers and healthcare providers about steps they can take to prevent infections. The program also provides tools and resources for clinicians. These resources can be downloaded, viewed, copied and distributed without alteration.

Posted on by CDC's Safe Healthcare Blog

One comment on “Point Is Protection: Safety First for Oncology Health Care Professionals and Our Patients”

Comments listed below are posted by individuals not associated with CDC, unless otherwise stated. These comments do not represent the official views of CDC, and CDC does not guarantee that any information posted by individuals on this site is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. Read more about our comment policy ».

    Thank you for providing valuable information on safe injection practices for oncology healthcare workers to prevent the spread of infections to patients. Exposure to chemotherapy drugs is another important safety concern during chemotherapy administration because these drugs have been shown to cause cancer and other adverse health effects in exposed healthcare workers. Healthcare professionals who administer chemotherapy drugs need to follow recommended safe handling guidelines to prevent exposure to these highly toxic drugs.

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Page last reviewed: September 28, 2020
Page last updated: September 28, 2020