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Pregnant Oncology Nurse

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whitecp whitecp (New) New

Hello,

I am a 40 y/o nurse with ONS certification that works at a busy outpatient infusion center for almost a year now, most of our patients are there to receive chemotherapy, although we don't mix these drugs, they come from pharmacy in double sealed bags already mixed and primed with a tube filled with normal saline and with a safety leaking device connected to the tip of the tube.

My concern is that I am 10 weeks pregnant. I have been using protective equipment as double gloves and gowns but not used any face masks. We administer all kinds of chemo drugs, and I became concerned after considering there is a risk of inhaling chemotherapy but I am not sure how true this is.

Does anyone knows or has worked administering chemotherapy and had a normal pregnancy/baby after that? I love my job but Should I consider to request being transferred to another unit?

Thanks in advance,

I was in the same situation back in 2006 pregnant with my first child. I requested to do triage and office duties and injections instead. I was very fearful and looking back I may have slightly overreacted but one never knows. I do feel you have the right to have the pregnancy you want and certainly have the right to demand a safe environment for your baby. At this point you are almost done with your first trimester which is the most dangerous part to be around chemotherapy. After the first trimester, chemo can even be administered to pregnant patients. So, looking at it that way you probably don't have much to worry about at this point. I understand your feelings, it was a very difficult situation for me to decide on since they pretty much wanted to fire me for not being able to do the job they hired me to do and I always felt I was letting them down by not doing it. But, it is your first act as a mom....sometimes you have to make difficult decisions that aren't always clear. I think no matter what you decide you won't regret your decision. If they will willingly give you another job for the mean time then go for it, but if not, you probably will be okay. Consider breast feeding too...if you plan to do that you have to consider chemo getting into your milk supply as well. Just a thought. Congrats and best wishes!

I had a coworker who became pregnant while working oncology. She was granted charge nurse duty and took care of the (clean) med-surg patients that occasionally landed on our floor. It all depends on your management's willingness to accommodate you, and in infusion nursing, you don't have quite the same leeway, but it's something to consider.

Personally, I wouldn't touch the stuff with a 10-foot pole while pregnant. You just never know what could go wrong.

rubato, ASN, RN

Specializes in Oncology/hematology.

We don't let people hang chemo if they are pregnant. Luckily, we are an older staff and only one nurse is pregnant while 2 are trying. We are an oncology unit in a hospital, so not all of our patients are there for chemo. Some are there for pain control.

I gave chemotherapy through 2 pregnancies and all was fine. I consistently use chemo cloves and gown, but have not ever used a face shield or safety glasses. Both pregnancies were uneventful and both of my girls are fine. Both were honor students throughout college, one was an athlete, and the other is an artist. My granddaughter also is fine. Keep wearing your gloves and gown and washing your hands before and after administration. You and your baby will be fine. I have been in an oncology nurse for 28 years. Of course, if being around chemotherapy causes anxiety for you, then it is certainly your right to request a different assignment. But if being with the cancer patients and doing what you know best is where you are the happiest and the most effective, you can keep your baby safe by following safety measures.

decembergrad2011, BSN, RN

Specializes in Oncology. Has 12 years experience.

I have not hung chemo since being pregnant and now breastfeeding. I have understanding coworkers and will extend the same understanding to anyone else in the same situation.

mappers

Specializes in Med/Surg/Tele/Onc.

We don't let our pregnant and breastfeeding nurses hang chemo. Our clinic has triage, lab, coag, and injections as well as chemo, so they rotate through those positions.

delphine22

Specializes in Quality, Cardiac Stepdown, MICU. Has 5 years experience.

Keep in mind that pregnancy is not a disability, and employers that treat it as such by giving special accommodations open themselves up to litigation in the future.

If your charges are "nice" and change your assignment, that's great, but if they refuse, either use all the precautions available to you, or find a new job. You have to do what you can live with, but legally they are not required to change anything for you.

NightOwl0624

Has 6 years experience.

I work on a busy inpatient oncology floor, and earlier this year we had 8 pregnant nurses who delivered 9 babies within 4 months. It was a nightmare, honestly. I don't mind doing things for other nurses, but it really got to be a bit much with nurses refusing to go into certain rooms, reassigning patients, etc. I had to do a lot of extra work, seeing that I am pretty well done with my uterus at this point.

I know you cant discriminate, but I don't know what the Manager was thinking when 95% of her staff is female between 25-32 years old, and what the nurses are thinking by accepting a position on an Oncology floor when you intend to start or expand your family!

Swellz

Specializes in oncology, MS/tele/stepdown. Has 6 years experience.

We are lucky on my floor in that most of us aren't pregnant or trying, so it's easy for us to simply not assign them chemo or airborne patients. I hope that's an option for you.

I had a miscarriage worth one child (not blaming it in chemo but who knows ( when i got pregnant again i was moved to the renal hall and did not hang chemo. ...occasionally i double checked orders if i was the only other Chemo certified nurse, but never removed it from the chemo bag.

BeachsideRN, ASN

Specializes in NICU, Trauma, Oncology. Has 7 years experience.

Just curious, Does the ONS take any official stance on this? Where would I find that information?

Hello,

So I wanted to say thank you for all your comments, they are really giving me peace of mind. I am 3 months pregnant with my first baby and have worked oncology for 3 years. I was mixing some chemo in the 5 weeks I didn't know I was pregnant, so a little worried about that, even though I was gowning and gloving and wearing a mask most of the time. How does anyone feel about restocking the chemo cabinet when the drugs come in? I read there is quite a risk of exposure at that point. Also, I felt I could double glove and hang chemo after the first trimester, but your mind just goes haywire at times hoping/wishing this is safe. It is just such a tricky issue being that I work in a small clinic and the two nurses we have, have many hats. Thank you in advance!