Serious allergic reactions in cancer patients call for expert nursing intervention

ient starts with the nurse's knowledge of the drugs being administered, the risk of reaction, and the signs and symptoms of a reaction.

If a reaction does occur, the nurse stabilizes the patient by stopping the medication immediately and providing supportive therapy while notifying the physician, nurse practitioner, and initiating physician's orders for management of the patient's symptoms. Providing proper emotional support to the patient and family is another important management component.

"Naturally, patients are nervous to find out that what we give them for treatment may cause a reaction," explained Held-Warmkessel. "Reassurance and the continuation of excellent nursing care will allow patients to feel more at ease."

Nurses also educate the patient and their family on the importance of reporting symptoms. Signs of a reaction may vary from mild to severe and may include itching, wheezing, changes in blood pressure and heart rate, chest or back pain and loss of consciousness. Severe reactions can cause potentially life-threatening symptoms such as hypotension, bronchospasm and laryngeal edema.

Held-Warmkessel is among the staff of Fox Chase nurses who, in 2000, were recognized for excellence with the Magnet Award. At Fox Chase, nurses not only specialize in oncology, but further concentrate within a particular field, allowing them to provide the most up-to-date treatment.

Also presenting with Held-Warmkessel are Melodie Thomas, BSN, RN, OCN, CCRP and Debra Swan, RN, MA, CNP, AOCN.


Contact: Colleen Kirsch
Fox Chase Cancer Center

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