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Chemotherapy Safety in Bangladesh

October 19, 2017 · NECS President on Medical Mission

NECS President and lead physician Dr. Tracey F. Weisberg is on a medical mission trip to Bangladesh, offering care to breast cancer patients, and medical education to physicians. She will share some of her experiences here.

On this medical mission in Bangladesh, the nurses have created a chemotherapy best practices course for the nurses here in the hospital.

The current state of affairs is that drugs are frequently purchased by the patients and brought to the clinic from open air stalls as seen in the first picture, right.Open air stalls

There is no quality control. The nurses store the drugs at the bedside. The chemotherapy is opened at the bedside, drawn up in a syringe and injected into an intravenous bag. Sometimes supportive care drugs are injected into the bag straight through the plastic membrane, violating all sterility.

Nursing staff treating patients

The nurses administering the drugs have absolutely NO protection from these toxic compounds. They have not used gowns, gloves or eye gear in the past.

As a result of our mission, the nursing staff at the hospital now has supplies to use to keep them safe while treating the patient. They also have been instructed (for perhaps the first time) on how to properly prepare the patient, make certain that the IV is functional, make certain that they are treating with the correct agent.

We introduced the concept of multidisciplinary collaborative care of the cancer patient. By the end of the week we had convinced the physicians that the nurses should be making rounds with us on a daily basis.

Such small changes which, if maintained, we are hopeful will make large impacts on patient outcomes and safety.