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Team Approach Best for Safe Handling of Cytotoxic Agents

Study suggests bladder cancer treatment needs special policy to promote staff safety

TUESDAY, Dec. 8 (HealthDay News) -- Cytotoxic agents used in the treatment of bladder tumors present a threat to perioperative nurses' safety, and a team approach is the best way to develop safe handling policies and procedures, according to a study in the December issue of the AORN Journal.

Tara L. Willemson-McBride, R.N., and Karen Gehan, R.N., of St. Mary's General Hospital in Kitchener, Canada, describe the scenario in their hospital, a 191-bed facility with urology as one of its specialties, where the use of cytotoxic agents in the treatment of bladder cancer has recently become more prevalent.

When perioperative nursing staff expressed concern about how to handle such medications -- as well as contaminated waste -- safely, a committee comprising nursing, pharmacy, infection control, environmental safety and occupational health staff was formed to develop the relevant policies and protocols.

"Preparing, administering, and disposing of cytotoxic agents involves staff members throughout the hospital and patients undergoing a variety of procedures including ophthalmologic surgery; therefore, the policy was developed to be applicable to all hospital environments," the authors write. "The facility educators believe that this was a successful experience because staff members were able to recognize and communicate a learning need and subsequently participate in the development of the policies and procedures that met their learning needs while supporting safe clinical practice."

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