Safe Handling of Cytotoxic Drugs
The below blog post was created on September 5th 2013, by Komal Patel and is reproduced here due to popularity:
Have you ever heard a nurse colleague say, “I don’t want to wear double gloves and/or gown when I’m administering chemotherapy? I haven’t had to in the past 10 years, so why should I change my practice now?” Many of you are most likely nodding your head yes. So, is it okay not to wear the appropriate personal protective equipment(PPE) when administering chemotherapy regardless of the route? Of course not! You want to protect yourself.
Many chemotherapy drugs and some biotherapy drugs are classified as hazardous drugs. Ifind it mind boggling when healthcare professionals feel that it is not important to wear PPE when working with cytotoxic agents such as chemotherapy. Safe handling is a vital consideration for nurses administering and providing care to individuals receiving these.
Because oncology nurses are exposed to cytotoxic agents many times a day, up to five days a week, for their entire career, PPE’s are a must as they help reduce the risk of exposure. Furthermore, it is important to remember that even though chemotherapy agents used to treat individuals with cancer have side effects, the benefits outweigh the risks; for nurses/healthcare professionals the exposure has no benefit.
Did you know that Occupational exposure to cytotoxic drugs was recognized as a potential hazard for health care workers in the 1970s a group of scientists were studying mutagenicity of urine sample and discovered that there was potential risk for nurses handling these drugs? You are shocked?
There’s a great research article called Safe Handling of Parenteral Cytotoxics: Recommendations for Ontario by Esther Green and Colleagues that explains how the cytotoxic guidelines and standards for Ontario were developed. I would definitely recommend reading it as it will give you a better understanding the importance of wearing PPEs. If you want to read the document with recommendations, click here.
de Souza Institute has standardized the education that registered nurses in Ontario receive about chemotherapy and biotherapy. Want to learn more about chemotherapy, biotherapy, and safe handling, consider enrolling in de Souza’s Provincial Chemotherapy and Biotherapy Course for the latest evidence based information.
I would like to hear what are your thoughts about wearing PPE when administering cytotoxic agents by IV, SC, and by mouth?
Below are the comments we received in 2013: