While reviewing the medication list for a new patient with rheumatoid arthritis, you note she has an order for rituximab and methotrexate. A quick search in a nursing drug handbook tells you rituximab is a biotherapy drug indicated for patients with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and methotrexate is classified as a chemotherapy drug. Why are an increasing number of drugs normally that are given to cancer patients now being ordered to treat autoimmune diseases? You’re not chemotherapy “certified,” so you wonder whether you can give these drugs. Do they require special handling precautions? Autoimmune diseases cause suffering and disability for many people. New biotherapy drugs and older chemotherapy agents have the potential to ease symptoms and improve quality of life. This course provides the information you need to administer these medications and to teach patients about them. The goal of this course is to provide information to nurses related to use of chemotherapy and biotherapy drugs for autoimmune patients so nurses can serve as patient advocates. At the conclusion, nurses will know indications for use of these drugs in autoimmune patients, be able to discuss management of patients with autoimmune diseases receiving biotherapy and chemotherapy drugs as treatment, and recall how to handle hazardous drugs.
Key Learning Outcomes
Nancy E. Thompson, MS, RN, AOCNS
Thompson is the Clinical Director of Quality and Performance at the Swedish Cancer Institute in Seattle, Washington.
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