BD Oncology

Reduce administration errors while working with cytotoxic drugs

Whilst chemotherapy is a well-established treatment for oncology patients, these cytotoxic drugs still carry a significant risk of causing adverse effects and harm. This risk is amplified by the narrow therapeutic index of many drugs, and the fact that patients are often frail or immunosuppressed.

Misadministration of these drugs could result in significant toxicity. Therefore, prevention of errors during the administration stage of chemotherapy is of paramount importance for oncology nurses.

Errors can occur at any stage of the oncology treatment pathway, however the administration phase is an area particularly prone to risk. One study investigating errors as a proportion of total potential errors reported 27.3% occurring in the administration phase of oncology.1Another study concluded many of the errors that occur in the administration phase of oncology are preventable.2

There are strategies and technologies that can be adopted to improve accuracy and reduce the incidence of errors when administering chemotherapy drugs. In this article, we will first explore the types, causes and impact of administration errors within oncology, before discussing solutions to reduce them and improve oncology safety.

Most common error types

A medication administration error can be defined as “any difference between what the patient received or was supposed to receive and what the prescriber intended in the original order.”3

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