Aim: The issue of medication safety is highly significant when anti-cancer therapy is used due to the high potential for harm from these agents and the disease context in which they are being used. This article reports on the development of multidisciplinary consensus guidelines for the safe prescribing, dispensing and administration of cancer chemotherapy undertaken by a working group of the Clinical Oncological Society of Australia (COSA). Methods: A working group of pharmacists, nurses and medical oncologists was convened from the COSA membership. A draft set of guidelines was proposed and circulated to the COSA council and the wider membership of COSA for comment. The final version of the guidelines was then distributed to 25 key stakeholders in Australia for feedback and endorsement. Results: An initial draft was developed based on existing standards, evidence from the literature and consensus opinion of the group. It was agreed that published case studies would be used as evidence for a particular statement where related processes had resulted in patient harm. The group defined 13 areas where a guidance statement was applicable to all professional disciplines and three individual sections based on the processes and the professionals involved in the provision of cancer therapy. Conclusion: The guidelines development represents a multidisciplinary collaboration to standardize the complex process of providing chemotherapy for cancer and to enhance patient safety. These are consensus guidelines based on the best available evidence and expert opinion of professionals working in cancer care. They should be seen as a point of reference for practitioners providing chemotherapy services.
- Medication error