I like to think that all healthcare workers and staff do all they can to ensure the safe handling of hazardous drugs. I am confident, for the most part, they do. However, there are those few who don’t – I hope they read this.
In my travels over the last five (plus) years, I have seen and heard reasons for not evaluating and implementing increased safety measures for the handling of hazardous drugs from, “It isn’t in the budget,” to “It’s too hard,” to “I don’t think there’s a problem,” etc. With the recent letter from OSHA, NIOSH and The Joint Commission, I believe this topic should rise to a higher priority on a clinician’s “to-do” list.
Strong leaders understand and want to be accountable to the people who work and look up to them. Decision makers have a responsibility to fix what they know is wrong. Respected co-workers have a responsibility to lead by example.
Many peer-reviewed studies show contaminated healthcare workers are experiencing side effects similar to those of a chemotherapy patient, including hair loss, vomiting, mouth sores, and skin rashes. Additionally, the incidence of cancer in these workers is higher, especially for leukemia and bladder cancer. A study led by Dr. Melissa A. McDiarmid, MD, MPH, DABT, titled, Chromosome 5 and 7 abnormalities in oncology personnel handling anticancer drugs, proved there is exposure to genotoxic drugs in oncology work settings despite reported use of safety practices.
No one should have to be concerned about his or her safety at work (outside of the police, fire and military, which I’m sure we all thank and appreciate them for their service every day). When preparing and administering antineoplastic drugs, measures can be taken to eliminate the risk. Isolating hazardous drugs with a closed-system drug transfer device, such as PhaSeal®, is a proven way to contain the drug. Installing ventilation equipment (ex. hoods) and following standard operating procedures, such as PPE, is also recommended. In future blogs, I will talk about Carmel Pharma’s solution for the financial impact of the high cost of antineoplastic drugs.
You can make sure you are doing your part in your job and your environment – the future for the safe handling of hazardous drugs is bright if pharmacists, nurses, technicians and everyone involved are accountable for their own practices.
Pharmacy techs and floor nurses need to stand up.
Pharmacy and nursing managers need to stand up.
Executives need to stand up.
We all need to be accountable for ourselves and to each other. Ask yourself every day, “Am I doing my part in creating the safest possible work environment?”
To promote the education on the safe handling of hazardous drugs, Carmel Pharma – the maker of PhaSeal– is the official sponsor of National Safe Handling Awareness Month (April) and Day (April 20), Be sure to register for this year’s complimentary National Safe Handling Awareness Day webinar.