Just How Dangerous Is Chemotherapy?

This next piece is from the University of Iowa’s web site [Note: the pages have been expurgated from their web site, however, we have here the only copy. 3/31/07]:

Patients and caregivers shall be taught safe, proper, handling and disposal of waste generated during continuous infusions of chemotherapy.

The following procedures should be implemented immediately if a chemotherapy leak or spill should occur:

1. Put on a pair of disposable latex gloves.

2. If chemo has spilled on clothing, remove immediately and take a shower, scrubbing the exposed skin with soap and water. Watch for redness, blistering, or a burning sensation. Contact your nurse to report the spill. She will give you further instructions if necessary.

3. Remove any and all sharp objects, placing them into your sharps container or any can with a lid such as a coffee can.

4. Soak up the spill with an absorbent disposable material, such as paper towels.

5. Disinfect the spill area with soap and water or a household cleaner such as window cleaner, 409, alcohol, bleach, or liquid carpet cleaner.

6. Put the absorbent material and the gloves into a chemotherapy waste container or garbage bag and carefully mark it. It will be picked up later by the pharmacy personnel.

7. If a spill occurs on a patient's or caregiver's clothing or sheets, these articles should be washed separately from regular laundry in hot water.

8. If a spill occurs on unprotected furniture, the area should be scrubbed with soap and water and rinsed with clean water while wearing protective chemo safety gloves.

9. Patients and caregivers should be taught to use care when handling vomitus or excretions of the patient for 48 hours post treatment and to use good hand-washing technique.