WASHINGTON, DC—A project designed to strengthen the knowledge and skills of non-chemotherapy provider nurses enhanced care for patients receiving chemotherapy and biotherapy by improving basic knowledge about the administration process and handling of hazardous drugs and waste, according to research presented at the Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) 38th Annual Congress.

“With the ever-increasing number of oncology patients being cared for in non-oncology settings, non-chemotherapy provider nurses must be equipped with the proper knowledge and skills in providing competent care for this vulnerable population,” stated Roque Anthony Velasco, BSN, RN, PHN, CMSRN, of the University of California San Diego Health System, San Diego, CA, in explaining the rationale for the project.

The four-phase process that guided the project included creating teaching tools and collaboration between chemotherapy provider nurses and non-chemotherapy provider nurses using skill acquisition theory principles. “Consultation and creation of teaching tools including competency and handoff forms, chemotherapy and biotherapy teaching sessions, and baseline and postintervention data collection through surveys and internal measures” were also involved, Velasco reported.

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The number of certified chemotherapy provider nurses increased by 280%, from 5 at baseline to 16. When baseline and follow-up data were compared, chemotherapy-related knowledge and skills among the non-chemotherapy nurse providers were shown to be enhanced. For example, an 80% decrease was noted in the number of chemotherapy-related electronic Quality Variance Reports (from 10 at baseline to 2).

“The average time between acknowledgment of chemotherapy orders to infusion decreased by 18% and could be attributed to the non-chemotherapy provider nurse’s enhanced knowledge in preparing the patient for the chemotherapy administration and working collaboratively with the chemotherapy provider nurse,” Velasco noted.

Postsurvey data showed improvement in the non-chemotherapy nurse provider’s self-rating on handling of hazardous drugs and waste, documentation, and ability to care for patients receiving chemotherapy. Also revealed was that 100% of respondents believed chemotherapy nurse providers to be a good resource, and feelings and attitudes towards chemotherapy and chemotherapy provider certification improved.

“With a focus on competency and patient safety, other non-oncology patient care areas where chemotherapy is administered could easily adopt this project’s structure,” Velasco concluded.