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Oncology nurse campaigns to reduce harmful IV leaks

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A specialist cancer nurse and manager at Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust is spearheading a national campaign to prevent harmful medication leaks.

Emma Thoms, acute oncology service lead and interim lead cancer nurse at the trust, has launched a drive to improve the management of extravasations – when intravenous medication leaks from a cannula or other device into surrounding tissue.

“Extravasation injuries can have a significant impact on a patient’s quality of life”

Emma Thoms

As part of the project, she is asking healthcare professionals across the country to complete an online survey and provide information about examples of extravasations they have encountered.

Extravasions can cause mild to severe complications, including necrosis, and can be particularly serious if they involve highly toxic substances like chemotherapy drugs.

“Extravasation injuries can have a significant impact on a patient’s quality of life and it is essential all healthcare professionals across the country do their best to prevent them,” said Ms Thoms, who manages the Seamoor Unit, a new chemotherapy and day treatment centre at North Devon District Hospital.

“A number of steps can be taken including training, appropriate vein selection and educating the patient,” she said.

Ms Thoms is running the project with support from the trust’s lead cancer pharmacist Nyasha Manomano.

“We were keen to launch the campaign to share best practice based on the evidence we collate,” said Ms Thoms.

She added: “We will review the data, analyse the trends and risk factors and publish the findings so we can improve practice across the country in the future.”

Nurses and other healthcare professionals are being asked to submit examples of extravasations via the trust’s website.

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