Background: The American Society of Clinical Oncology and the Oncology Nursing Society have issued guidelines stating that the vital signs of patients should be routinely checked on days that intravenous chemotherapy is administered. This study sought evidence to justify this approach. Methods: This trial focused on consecutive patients with cancer from 2 institutions and evaluated outcomes during the first cycle of gemcitabine-based chemotherapy. The primary end point of the study was a visit to the ED, hospitalization, or death during the first cycle of chemotherapy. Results: Medical records from 1,158 patients were reviewed, and vital signs were checked in 589 patients on day 1 and in 486 on day 8. A total of 148 patients (12.8%) were evaluated in the emergency department (ED), 145 (12.5%) were hospitalized, and 11 (0.9%) died during their first cycle of chemotherapy. In multivariate analyses, which were adjusted for age, sex, cancer type, role of chemotherapy, number of chemotherapy drugs administered on day 1, and institution, checking vital signs on day 1 was associated with neither higher rates of ED visits nor with increased hospitalization; however, checking vital signs on day 8 was associated with higher rates of ED visits (odds ratio [OR]: 3.71; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 2.18–6.22; P < .0001) and higher rates of hospitalizations (OR: 3.98; 95% CI: 2.34–6.73; P < .0001). Conclusion: This study suggests a need for additional, evidence-based data to support the routine checking of vital signs prior to administering cancer chemotherapy.
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