ARTICLES / Cancer /
Keeping Safe at Home... /
Cheryl Coppola RN, MSN, OCN
- If a bedpan, commode or urinal is used, the
caregiver should wear gloves when emptying it.
(Two pairs of latex or nitrile gloves are
recommended.) Rinse it well with water and wash
with soap and water at least once per day. The
same applies to basins used for vomiting.
- Wash clothing and linen as usual unless itís
soiled with chemotherapy or body fluids. Use
gloves and immediately put the soiled laundry in
the washer separate from other laundry. If you
donít have a washer, put laundry in a sealed
plastic bag until it can be washed. ēIf
chemotherapy is spilled on skin, irritation or
rash may occur. Wash the area thoroughly with
soap and water. If redness lasts more than an
hour, call a doctor. You can avoid contact with
skin by wearing gloves when handling
chemotherapy, equipment or wastes.
- For spills on the floor or in the home
environment (not on your skin), your home health
agency will supply you with a chemotherapy spill
kit. Follow the instructions on the box exactly.
- All cartridges, bags, bottles or tubing that
contains chemotherapy must be disposed of in the
supplied needle box.
- Use gloves when handling all oral
- Keep all chemotherapy drugs, equipment,
wastes, needle boxes, etc. out of reach of
Receiving chemotherapy as an outpatient is much
more common than in the past and itís much more
convenient than getting treatment in a hospital.
However, simple precautions need to be taken to make
sure everyone at home stays safe.
Cheryl Coppola has
been an oncology nurse for nine years. She
is certified in oncology nursing and
chemotherapy administration. She currently
serves as chairperson for the Hazardous Drug
Safety Committee at the UConn Health Center
in Farmington, Connecticut.