A review of the role of emergency nurses in management of chemotherapy-related complications

Tracey Bucknall, Julie Considine, Patricia Livingston, Mari Botti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Aims and objectives. To examine the role of emergency nurses in caring for patients who receive chemotherapy in ambulatory oncology settings. Reasons for emergency department presentations are examined, specific sources of clinical risk for patients receiving chemotherapy who require emergency care are discussed and cost implications of emergency department presentations related to chemotherapy are analysed. Background. Given the increased administration of chemotherapy in ambulatory settings, emergency nurses play an important role in the management of patients undergoing adjuvant chemotherapy. Emergency departments are the major entry point for acute inpatient hospital care of complications arising from chemotherapy. Design. Systematic review. Results. Chemotherapy-related emergency department presentations have considerable clinical and cost implications for patients and the healthcare system. Strategies to improve emergency department management of chemotherapy complications and reduction in preventable emergency department presentations has significant implications for improving cancer patients' quality of life and reducing the cost of cancer care. Conclusions. Nurses are well placed to play a pivotal role in chemotherapy management and lead interventions such as a specialist oncology nursing roles that provide information and support to guide patients through their chemotherapy cycles. These interventions may prevent emergency department presentations for patients receiving chemotherapy in ambulatory settings. Relevance to clinical practice. Patients receiving chemotherapy require access to specialised care to manage distressing symptoms, as they are at significant clinical risk because of immunosuppression and may not exhibit the usual signs of critical illness. A team approach both within and across nursing specialities may improve care for patients receiving chemotherapy and increase effective use of healthcare resources.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2649-2655
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Clinical Nursing
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2009


  • Cancer
  • Chemotherapy
  • Clinical risk
  • Cost
  • Emergency
  • Nursing
  • Oncology

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