Objectives: To assess chemotherapy patients' perceptions of safety and their attitudes towards participating in error-prevention strategies.
Design: Semistructured interviews were conducted with 30 chemotherapy patients at baseline. Follow-up interviews were conducted 9 weeks later.
Setting: A community hospital in Switzerland.
Results: Though patients had experienced errors in their care, they were only moderately worried about safety, risk of errors and the potential for harm. At follow-up, worries about safety had increased, and patients reported a higher degree of vigilance. Participants unequivocally agreed that patients can make contributions to their safety, and many patients were prepared to get involved. Patients described engaging in their safety as a learning process and highlighted the importance of being proactive, asking questions and communicating any observations of deviations from routines. Commonly recommended error-prevention strategies were rated as highly effective. Instruction by nurses was central for patients, but the underlying reasons varied. There was no indication that patients perceive participation in safety actions as eroding trust in their providers.
Conclusions: Patients are prepared to engage in their safety, but the encouragement by staff is vital. Involvement of patients with cancer in medication administration safety needs to acknowledge patients' conceptions of these activities and their varying abilities at different stages in the treatment process.