In an effort to standardize chemotherapy procedures, the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) and Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) have partnered to create a series of chemotherapy administration safety standards. The purpose of these standards is to minimize the risks of error associated with chemo administration and maximize overall patient safety.
Administration standards were created in response to several recent reports that indicate current chemotherapy administration procedures are prone to error. These reports indicate that risk of error has increased over the years due to the growing use of oral chemotherapeutics and the lack of industry standardization.
While following the new set of standards is not mandatory, ASCO and ONS hope that widespread adoption will lead to improved cancer treatment.
Listed Standards for Chemotherapy Administration
ASCO/ONS safety standards outline 31 different standards that relate to chemotherapy treatment. These standards pertain to such key treatment categories as staffing, chart documentation, chemotherapy ordering procedures, patient consent and pre-treatment procedures, chemotherapy administration and monitoring procedures.
Highlighted standards as laid forth by ASCO/ONS include:
- Hiring procedures for chemo treatment centers should include a comprehensive educational program that verifies employee competency through assessment practices
- Orders for oral chemotherapy are written and signed by licensed independent practitioners
- Administration of chemotherapy must be performed by a qualified physician, physician assistant, advanced practice nurse or registered nurse
- Chart documentation of a patient’s diagnosis, cancer stage, medical history and suggested regiment of chemo treatments must be provided prior to treatment
- Quality control guidelines must be enforced for off-site treatments
- Comprehensive written statements should be maintained that document time intervals and other pertinent data related to treatment
- Secondary verification via another practitioner or personnel member should be acquired when reviewing each order for chemotherapy treatment
- Chemotherapy drugs are labeled immediately following preparation
- Written documentation outlining goals and plan for treatment are provided to the patient prior to commencement
- Informed consent for treatment should be documented by the practitioner
- Monitoring of weight change, patient performance, psychosocial concerns and other pertinent facts should take place throughout the treatment regiment
For a full list of ASCO/NSO chemotherapy administration safety standards, interested parties may wish to download the Standards document located on the ASCO official website.
Process for Approval of Chemo Administration Safety Standards
ASCO and ONS went to great lengths to determine the most pertinent and effective standards related to chemotherapy treatment. From 2008 to 2009, the organizations reviewed literature and asked for consensus and advice from 40 varied oncology professionals. These professionals included oncologists, nurses, social workers, pharmacists, practice administrators and patient advocates.
Through these initial reviews, ASCO/ONS assembled 34 potential safety standards. These original standards were posted for public comment. Based on these comments, the official document was reduced to 31 total standards and released in January of 2010.