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Patients Deem Risks of Chemo Error Low, Potential Harm High

More than three-quarters of chemo patients agree they can help prevent errors

WEDNESDAY, May 12 (HealthDay News) -- While patients consider the risk of error in chemotherapy to be low, they perceive the potential harm to be substantial, and most agree patients can help prevent errors, according to research published online May 10 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

David L.B. Schwappach, Ph.D., of the Swiss Patient Safety Foundation in Zurich, and Martin Wernli, M.D., of Kantonsspital Aarau in Switzerland, administered a survey to 479 chemotherapy patients treated at an oncology/hematology unit at a regional hospital in Switzerland to elicit information about their experiences with and perceptions of errors in chemotherapy.

Among respondents, 16 percent reported experiencing an error in their chemotherapy and 11 percent said they were "very concerned" about errors. While the patients perceived the risk of errors as rather low, the researchers found that their rating of potential harm from error was high. Seventy-seven percent of respondents thought that patients themselves can help prevent errors, and safety-related behavior among patients was associated with their perception of error risk, affirmative attitudes toward patient involvement in prevention, and previous error experience.

"Chemotherapy safety is a considerable concern for patients. Many patients are prepared to be involved in error prevention. The results highlight areas for improvement in communication and cooperation for safety between patients and providers," the authors conclude.

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