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J Occup Environ Hyg. 2014;11(11):728-40. doi: 10.1080/15459624.2014.916809.

Adherence to safe handling guidelines by health care workers who administer antineoplastic drugs.

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1
a Division of Surveillance, Hazard Evaluations and Field Studies, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health , Cincinnati , Ohio.

Abstract

The toxicity of antineoplastic drugs is well documented. Many are known or suspected human carcinogens where no safe exposure level exists. Authoritative guidelines developed by professional practice organizations and federal agencies for the safe handling of these hazardous drugs have been available for nearly three decades. As a means of evaluating the extent of use of primary prevention practices such as engineering, administrative and work practice controls, personal protective equipment (PPE), and barriers to using PPE, the National Institute for Safety and Health (NIOSH) conducted a web survey of health care workers in 2011. The study population primarily included members of professional practice organizations representing health care occupations which routinely use or come in contact with selected chemical agents. All respondents who indicated that they administered antineoplastic drugs in the past week were eligible to complete a hazard module addressing self-reported health and safety practices on this topic. Most (98%) of the 2069 respondents of this module were nurses. Working primarily in hospitals, outpatient care centers, and physician offices, respondents reported that they had collectively administered over 90 specific antineoplastic drugs in the past week, with carboplatin, cyclophosphamide, and paclitaxel the most common. Examples of activities which increase exposure risk, expressed as percent of respondents, included: failure to wear nonabsorbent gown with closed front and tight cuffs (42%); intravenous (I.V.) tubing primed with antineoplastic drug by respondent (6%) or by pharmacy (12%); potentially contaminated clothing taken home (12%); spill or leak of antineoplastic drug during administration (12%); failure to wear chemotherapy gloves (12%); and lack of hazard awareness training (4%). The most common reason for not wearing gloves or gowns was "skin exposure was minimal"; 4% of respondents, however, reported skin contact during handling and administration. Despite the longstanding availability of safe handling guidance, recommended practices are not always followed, underscoring the importance of training and education for employers and workers.

KEYWORDS:

antineoplastic drug administration; chemotherapy; hazardous drugs; health care workers; safe handling practices; web-based survey

PMID:
24766408
PMCID:
PMC4568815
DOI:
10.1080/15459624.2014.916809
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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