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Safe Handling of Chemotherapy and Biotherapy at Home

This information will help you safely handle chemotherapy and biotherapy at home.

Handling the medication

  • Wash your hands before and after touching the medicine.
  • Caregivers should wear disposable gloves when touching the medicine. Throw the gloves in the trash afterward.
  • If you are pregnant or trying to get pregnant, do not handle chemotherapy or biotherapy.
  • Do not crush, break or open any pills or capsules unless your doctor tells you to.
  • If a child or pet accidentally swallows the medicine, call Poison Control immediately at 800-222-1222.

Storage

  • Store all medicines in sealed containers away from children and pets.
  • Keep the medicine in its original container.
  • Your nurse or pharmacist may give you special instructions on how to store the medicine.
  • If the medicine needs to be in the refrigerator, store the container inside another container or in a sealed bag. Make sure it does not touch any food.
  • Left-over medicine cannot go in the trash. Keep it in its container and place in a plastic bag before returning it to the chemotherapy unit.
  • Follow instructions on the Disposal of Your Home Medical Sharps fact card.

Intravenous (IV) Medication

  • Make sure the connections of your IV tubing are tight and not leaking. You should do this twice a day.
  • If the IV connection is leaking:
    • Put on disposable gloves
    • Cover the connection with a paper towel and a plastic bag
    • Stop the pump by clamping the tubing and/or turning it off
    • Call right away for instructions from a nurse:
      • Weekdays 9 am - 5 pm call your doctor’s office at ____________.
      • After 5 pm or weekends call the Urgent Care Center at (212) 639-7203.

Handling waste

The medication may appear in body fluids like urine, stool, vomit, vaginal fluid or semen.
Follow these instructions for 2 days after IV therapy and 7 days after oral therapy:
  • Wear disposable gloves when:
    • Emptying or rinsing containers such as a bedpan, urinal or commode
    • Touching soiled diapers, linen and clothing
    • Cleaning up urine, vomit and stool
  • Wash soiled linen or clothing separately from other laundry. Wash them twice in hot water and detergent. Put them in a plastic bag and seal the bag if they cannot be washed right away.
  • Place all disposable diapers in a sealed bag before putting them in the trash.
  • Close the toilet lid and flush twice after using the toilet.
  • Wash your hands after using the toilet.
  • Wash any skin area that has come in contact with urine or stool.

Spills

  • If a liquid drug spills:
    • Put on disposable gloves
    • Soak up the spill with disposable towels
    • Clean the area of the spill with a disinfectant wipe that contains bleach
    • Clean again with soap and water and paper towels
    • Place all supplies used to clean the spill in a plastic bag and seal it before you put it in the trash
  • Chemotherapy that spills on the skin may cause irritation. Thoroughly wash the area with soap and water. Call your doctor or nurse if you develop any skin redness, pain or burning.
  • If chemotherapy splashes in your eyes, immediately rinse them with running water. Keep the water flowing over your open eyes for 10 to15 minutes. Call your doctor or nurse to ask for more instructions. Your eyes may need to be examined.