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Pre-treatment assessment for patients with breast cancer undergoing chemotherapy: a best practice implementation project.

OBJECTIVES: This project aimed to conduct an audit of pre-treatment assessment for patients with breast cancer undergoing chemotherapy and to assess the impact of these changes in improving the compliance with evidence-based best practice criteria in a large tertiary hospital.

INTRODUCTION: Pre-treatment assessment before cancer chemotherapy is paramount in order for patients to receive effective and safe treatment. Numerous guidelines and consensus-based standards for safe chemotherapy administration have been developed, which state that nurses should conduct and document comprehensive health assessments for patients prior to administration of chemotherapy.

METHODS: The project was conducted in the Breast Surgery Department of a nearly 3000-bed tertiary hospital in China. Evidence-based audit criteria were developed based on a JBI evidence summary. The JBI Practical Application of Clinical Evidence System (PACES) and Getting Research into Practice (GRiP) audit tool were used to promote changes in practice. Sample sizes of 13 clinical nurses and 30 breast cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy were included in baseline and follow-up audits.

RESULTS: The baseline audit indicated significant deficits in pre-treatment assessment nursing practice in the unit, with eight of the 12 criteria recording 0% compliance and one criterion recording only 3% compliance. Barriers to compliance were identified by the project team, and a series of strategies were adopted to address the barriers. There was improvement in compliance with all the best practice criteria in the follow-up audit compared with the baseline audit, with each one achieving a minimum of 90% compliance.

CONCLUSIONS: The project showed that regular and focused education and ongoing audits on pre-treatment assessment can help to optimize safe and effective chemotherapy treatment. Further strategies are planned to sustain the implementation of evidence.

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