I am a nursing student, and working part time as a CNA on an oncology unit. The senior staff (nurses and CNA's) vary a lot in the advice they give for our own protection. The most conservative includes don't wash your uniforms with anything else at home, and don't sit on your own furniture when you get home (I don't know what I should do about the car seat) until you shower and change your clothes. When emptying urine we are only told to wear gloves, but are little bits of splash a problem? I am trying to be more careful about bagging dirty linens and towels that it not touch my uniform, but some touching seems inevitable. The most liberal advice is its only concern to do more than standard universal precautions if you plan on getting pregnant soon. I wear gloves when giving baths, but not when I just take vitals or put a hand on a patient. Is that ok? Also right after treatment I was told not to stand in front of the patient, but off to the side, but that seems silly, because how does the radiation know where you are standing, isn't it eminating in every direction?
Are there resources anywhere that address the safety of the caregivers? All I have found is information on the safety of the patient. I am sorry if these sound like dumb questions. But the laundering advice threw me, to me once things are laundered they should be fine. Do I really need to launder my uniforms separately?
Thanks in advance for your input.
Mar 22, '07
It's been years since I worked oncology. We gave lots of chemotherapy and always wore gloves handling anything that might have bodily secretions on it. We always double gloved
when handling urine. We didn't do radiation treatments though so I can't help with that. . I sat on a big bath towel covering my seat in the car, bottoms of shoes were wiped with alcohol before getting into my car after work. The bath towel and scrubs
were washed each day after coming home with whatever else was in the wash...I don't know if any of this truly helped. Yes, sometimes, urine did splash higher than the gloves even when being very careful. We would just wash with soap and water thoroughly as soon as we could. This was 12 years ago however. The newer chemo drugs may have different guidelines. Give your pharmacy a call, they may help give you some other guidelines too. Good Luck and be careful.