The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) has launched the “Just Bag It” campaign for the safe handling of vincristine, a chemotherapeutic agent used primarily in the treatment of patients with leukemia and lymphoma.1,2

Vincristine should always be administered intravenously. Though highly effective as a treatment for these hematologic malignancies, it is also a neurotoxin that causes peripheral neuropathy when given intravenously and significant neurotoxicity if given intrathecally into the spinal fluid.

To prevent fatal instances when vincristine is administered intrathecally, the NCCN developed the “Just Bag It” campaign to ensure the proper administration of vincristine and to render it impossible to accidentally administer the medication into the spinal fluid.

“The mistake fortunately does not happen often, but if it happens once, it’s too many times because it is a fatal medical error,” Robert W. Carlson, MD, CEO of NCCN, stated during a press conference.

The campaign encourages health care providers to implement a policy to always dilute and administer vincristine in a mini IV-drip bag, rather than a syringe, in order to avoid potentially deadly medication errors.

“It’s really important that we realize that these avoidable medical errors are not just a statistic,” Dr Carlson added. “What is important about them is that they impact people in a very strong and negative way.”

All 27 NCCN Member Institutions have adopted guidelines in line with this recommendation, which are also supported by the Oncology Nursing Society, Institute for Safe Medication Practices, the Joint Commission, and the World Health Organization.

Reference

1. NCCN challenges medical community to “Just Bag It” to eradicate deadly medical error [news release]. Fort Washington, PA: National Comprehensive Cancer Network; November 10, 2016. Accessed November 10, 2016.

2. Just Bag It! National Comprehensive Cancer Network website. https://www.nccn.org/justbagit. Updated November 10, 2016. Accessed November 10, 2016.