The financial burden associated with cancer treatment is reaching new heights. In the heat of making decisions, patients and their families may drastically deplete their finances to reap the advantage a new drug may offer.
Medication errors are difficult to quantify in home hospice care, since the patients and their families are doing most of the medication administration themselves. This is a story about how one family members’ inquisitive attitude and partnership with her husband’s hospice nurse prevented a potentially serious medication error.
Oncology nurses are at an increased risk of exposure to airborne hazards when they’re administering cytotoxic treatments and caring for immunosuppressed patients that are susceptible to resistant infections. Airborne transmission occurs through small particles or droplet nuclei that remain in the air for extended periods of time. Healthcare organizations are expected to provide sufficient respiratory protection for workers potentially exposed to infectious organisms and hazardous agents.
Oncology nurses face some uncomfortably common truths when treating patients with cancer. Invariably—no matter how hard certain patients fight—some will die from their diseases. Patient death is a part of oncology care, and no nurse would tell you differently. But accepting and dealing with loss and grief is sometimes pushed aside in favor of stoic attitudes that some may equate with professionalism.
Although it’s hard to find the time to do so during a busy shift, there are times when you need to consult the best practice standards to support your work for a particular process. Whether you’re considering the best procedure for a central line dressing change or accessing an implanted port, or you’re considering the verification process and the best way to administer an IV chemotherapy agent, you need to know that your policies—and the competencies which you've engrained into your memory—are evidence-based and supported by your institution and professional organizations. Quality outcomes and measurements have never been more central to health care than they are now, and ONS-developed standards go a long way to supporting your practice.
In many ways, palliative care is central to oncology nursing. Defined as care provided to maintain or improve the quality of life of those with a serious illness or injury, this holistic, inclusive symptom control care is something oncology nurses provide as part of routine daily practice—even if they do not label this practice as such.
Recently, I read the article, “The Human Side of Cancer Treatment,” posted in Harvard Magazine by Lisa Cox. This article was moving in how it accurately described a patient's view of the complexity of an oncology nurse—the human side. I’m an oncology certified nurse, nursing supervisor, coworker, friend, wife, daughter, and mother, but most importantly, I’m a human being.
Florence Nightingale, a forerunner of evidence-based practice, linked sanitation to morbidity and mortality rates. Her initiatives, such as simple hand washing, remain standards today. The attention and implementation of quality standards have helped change and shape the way our healthcare system grows to keep patients safe.
Nursing theorist, Jean Watson, RN, PhD, FAAN, once said, “Caring is the essence of nursing.” As we move into the fast-paced era of increasing technology, innovative treatments, and electronic medical documenting, we should remember that small tokens of understanding and little acts of kindness are really what makes nursing such a privilege.
The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) has announced an upcoming free webinar, “Understanding the CDC Guidelines for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain and Other National Strategies,” for September 22, 2016. This free educational session will outline the changes to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) opioid prescription guidelines. This webinar comes at a time when healthcare professionals are looking to address the burgeoning opioid epidemic in the United States.