or a family member is currently receiving chemotherapy,
whether in the clinic or at home, it is strongly
recommended that precautions be followed in order to
keep household members safe:
- Patients may use
the toilet as usual, but close the lid
and flush twice. Be sure to wash hands with soap and
- 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
- 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.
- If 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 chemotherapy
- 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.