A Call to Action for Hazardous Drug Safety: Where We Have Been and Where We Are Now

Seth Eisenberg

chemotherapy, staff development/education, cancer program safety, drug delivery systems/devices, healthcare and cancer care policies
CJON 2016, 20(4), 377-384. DOI: 10.1188/16.CJON.20-04AP

Background: The dangers associated with handling hazardous drugs (HDs) have been well documented. Contamination of the healthcare environment, which can occur during compounding and administration, may lead to drug absorption by healthcare workers. Studies have proven that HD exposure causes numerous side effects and chromosomal aberrations.

Objectives: This article examines the complex issues surrounding HD safety, including workplace culture, current guidelines, and misconceptions regarding the risks associated with exposure. Discussions include suggestions for creating a workplace culture where HD safety is an expectation, along with an update on laws and significant impending changes.

Methods: Historical data and current research are presented.

Findings: Although improvements have been made in the use of personal protective equipment, studies indicate that nurses continue to be unnecessarily at risk. Inability to fully understand the dangers, a lack of organizational safety culture, and the general inability to enforce guidelines continue to be challenging. Fortunately, a number of upcoming changes will help to build momentum for increasing nursing safety.

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