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How to Handle Body Fluids After Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy and some other drugs can be a health risk for caregivers of patients who get these medicines. 

All caregivers must take safety precautions during chemotherapy administration and for 48 hours after chemotherapy is given.

48 hours

Chemotherapy safety precautions include wearing protective gear and following the guidelines for safe handling of body fluids and body waste during and after chemo.

Your care team will tell you what steps you need to take during and after chemotherapy. Always follow the instructions given by your care team.

Caregiver safety during chemotherapy

Chemotherapy medicines can be harmful if they get on the skin or in the eyes. The staff members who give your child chemo will wear personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves, gowns, and face shields or goggles. The staff might ask you to wear protective gear while your child receives these medicines.  

Please tell the staff right away if you see a medicine spill or leak from any equipment. Do not try to clean up a spill yourself. 

Safe handling of body fluids after chemotherapy

It is important to follow safety guidelines for how to handle body fluids and waste after your child receives chemotherapy or other hazardous medicines.  

For at least 48 hours after chemotherapy, all patient body fluids and waste can contain the medicine. This includes urine (pee), stool (poop), and vomit. These body fluids can be a health risk for family caregivers or others. During this time, all caregivers must follow safety precautions.  

Caregiver safety in the hospital

During the 48-hour period after your child receives chemo, hospital staff will wear gloves, gowns, and face and eye protection when handling your child’s vomit, blood, urine, bowel movements, and diapers. Staff may wear more PPE than family caregivers because of staff’s ongoing exposure.      

If your child is an inpatient, the nursing staff will dispose of any body fluids. The staff will also change diapers and soiled linens.  

Hazardous waste bags and containers: Do not put your child’s body fluids in the regular trash while in the hospital. Staff will place waste in chemo hazard bags and dispose of the bags in a hazardous drug waste container.  

Toileting: Your child should not use a urinal during this time. All patients should sit to use the toilet. When your child finishes toileting, immediately shut the toilet lid. While your child is inpatient, please ask the staff to flush the toilet. Do not flush body fluids yourself. If your child is at an outpatient visit, you may flush the toilet. 

Diaper changes during an inpatient stay: If your child wears diapers while in the hospital, please tell the nursing staff when your child’s diaper needs to be changed. Do not change your child’s diaper unless you have been trained. If you are trained to change your child’s diaper, you should wear gloves, gown, and face and eye protection. Place PPE in the hazardous waste container. Perform hand hygiene. Notify staff before disposing of diaper waste in the hazardous waste container. 

Outpatient visits: If your child is at the hospital as an outpatient, wear protective equipment as instructed if you handle your child’s vomit, blood, urine, or bowel movements, including diapers. Use the chemo waste container to dispose of used PPE, bagged diapers, or other body fluid waste. Do not place these items in the regular trash. 

Caregiver safety at home

After you leave the hospital, all caregivers need to follow the safety guidelines given by your care team. Make sure you have the PPE supplies that you need.

Follow these guidelines for at least 48 hours after chemotherapy:  

  • Wear gloves and protective clothing when handling your child’s vomit, blood, urine, or stool.
  • Wear gloves when handling your child’s soiled linens.
  • Wear a face shield or goggles if there is a risk of body fluids splashing.
  • Wear gloves and a face shield or goggles when changing your child’s diaper. 
  • Put used diapers in a plastic bag and place in your regular trash.
  • Lower the toilet lid when flushing the toilet at home and in hospital housing.

What to do if you are exposed to body fluids

  • If any of your child’s body fluids touch your skin, immediately wash the skin well with soap and water.
  • If any of your child’s body fluids get in your eyes, flush with water for 15 minutes while holding the eyelid open. Then, call your personal health care provider and explain what has happened. 

If you have questions or concerns about your safety or the safety of your child during and after chemo treatments, please talk to your care team.

Key points about how to handle body fluids after chemotherapy

  • Chemotherapy and some other drugs can be harmful to caregivers who handle the medicine or have contact with patient body fluids.
  • Caregivers will need to wear protective gear such as gowns, gloves, face masks, or eye shields as instructed.
  • Caregivers should avoid contact with patient body fluids and take precautions for safe handling for 48 hours after chemotherapy. 
  • Always follow safety instructions given by your care team.

Reviewed: April 2024