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ONS Hosts Safe Handling Meeting

ONS Hosts Safe Handling Meeting
Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) hosted a meeting of Safe Handling of Hazardous Drugs Association Stakeholders where organizational representatives voiced the concerns of their members about safe handling.

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ONS hosted 14 nurses and association professionals at a Safe Handling of Hazardous Drugs Association Stakeholders meeting on February 16, 2015, at the Paul Hastings, LLP office in Washington, DC. Representatives from five professional organizations participated with ONS members and staff to generate discussion on the issues surrounding safe handling of hazardous drugs.

The objectives for the meeting were to outline key issues in the implementation of standards followed in the safe handling of hazardous drugs, and to provide consensus recommendations regarding the implementation of the U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention's General Chapter 800 Hazardous Drugs–Handling in Healthcare Settings.

Meeting Outcomes

The meeting provided the opportunity for organizational representatives to voice the concerns of their membership regarding safe handling. Presentations and discussions reviewed the literature available and member concerns regarding engineering controls, personal protective equipment (PPE), medical surveillance, attitudes, beliefs, and financial concerns. During this discussion, common ground was identified and summarized in the following consensus statements.

This group agreed that it will

  • Create and continuously promote a culture of patient and healthcare safety.
  • Provide resources, including templates, to promote compliance with implementing safe handling.
  • Reach a consensus on critical definitions (e.g., what defines a spill).
  • Include practitioner input in facility design.
  • Develop resources for how to choose PPE and closed-system transfer devices.
  • Include worker safety standards in the next iteration of chemotherapy and biotherapy safety standards.
  • Provide free access to a medical surveillance questionnaire template.

Next Steps

Participants will discuss the meeting with the organizations they represent.

  • Organizations will share their response to the USP Chapter 800 draft prior to submission to reinforce the shared points with a shared voice.
  • Approval of the joint position statement was obtained in February.
  • The group will design a plan to address consensus statements.

Meeting Attendees

External Guests

Melissa A. McDiarmid, MD, MPH, DABT (invited presenter)
Bona Benjamin, B.S.Pharm., Representing: American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP)
Patricia Kienle, RPh, MPA, FASHP, Representing: American Society of Health-System Pharmacists
Deborah Kamin, RN, PhD, Representing: American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO)
Steven K. Stranne, MD, JD, Representing: American Society of Clinical Oncology
Ryan Forrey, PharmD, MS, FASHP, Representing: Hematology/Oncology Pharmacists Association (HOPA)
Kristin Belderson, DNP, MS, RN, CPON, Representing: Association of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Nurses (APHON)
Leah Ralph, Manager, Representing: Association of Community Cancer Centers (ACCC)

ONS Members

Martha Polovich, PhD, RN, AOCN®
Marlon Garzo Saria, MSN, RN, AOCNS®

ONS Staff

Michele R. McCorkle Dietz, RN, MSN, Executive Director, External Relations and Business Development
Michele Galioto, RN, MSN, Director, ONS Education
Kristine B. LeFebvre, MSN, RN, AOCN®, Oncology Clinical Specialist, Education Team
Alec Stone, MA, MPA, Director of Health Policy


ONS Hosts Meeting of Safe Handling of Hazardous Drugs Association Stakeholders

ONS Hosts Meeting of Safe Handling of Hazardous Drugs Association Stakeholders
Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Nursing and professional association representatives share members’ concerns about safe handling of hazardous drugs and are partnering to encourage safety in health care.

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The Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) recently hosted a Safe Handling of Hazardous Drugs Association Stakeholders meeting in Washington, DC. The purpose of the meeting was to outline key issues in the administration of hazardous drugs and to provide a consensus recommendation regarding the U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention’s General Chapter 800: Hazardous Drugs—Handling in Healthcare Settings.

Attendees voiced the concerns of their membership regarding safe handling. Nursing and professional associations represented included

  • American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO)
  • American Society of Health-System Pharmacists
  • Association of Community Cancer Centers
  • Association of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Nurses
  • Hematology/Oncology Pharmacy Association (HOPA)

A joint position statement was developed and approved by ONS, ASCO, and HOPA that outlines strategies to protect healthcare workers. The stakeholders will continue to work together to encourage safety in the healthcare environment.

“We cannot take the safety of healthcare professionals and the patients they serve for granted,” said Margaret Barton-Burke, PhD, RN, FAAN, ONS president. “The importance of promoting and providing education and resources to achieve a safe environment cannot be underestimated.”

“Nurses should not have to risk their health and safety when caring for patients who are receiving chemotherapy,” said Martha Polovich, PhD, RN, AOCN®, Clinical Associate Professor, Byrdine F. Lewis School of Nursing and Health Professions at Georgia State University. “Yet health care is the only industry in the U.S. where protection against exposure to carcinogens is optional. Nurses should share the position with their colleagues and employers and use the statement as a basis for creating a safer workplace.” Polovich led the group that developed the joint position statement.

“The safety of our workers and the patients they care for is of utmost importance,” said ASCO President Peter P. Yu, MD, FACP, FASCO. “With this framework, our societies join forces to support our respective members in ensuring a safe environment for their colleagues and the patients and families they serve.”

“It is important for organizations to take every opportunity to evaluate and improve their practices for handling, storage, and disposal of hazardous drugs,” says Michael Vozniak, PharmD, BCOP, HOPA president. “Education is paramount to maintaining safe practices and minimizing exposure to healthcare workers, patients and families.”

About ASCO

ASCO is the world’s leading professional organization representing physicians who care for people with cancer. With more than 35,000 members, ASCO is committed to improving cancer care through scientific meetings, educational programs and peer-reviewed journals. ASCO is supported by its affiliate organization, the Conquer Cancer Foundation, which funds ground-breaking research and programs that make a tangible difference in the lives of people with cancer. For ASCO information and resources, visit Patient-oriented cancer information is available at www.Cancer.Net

About HOPA

HOPA is a nonprofit professional organization formed in 2004 to help oncology and hematology pharmacy practitioners and their associates provide the best possible cancer care. HOPA supports research, provides education to advance knowledge, encourages professional development and advocates for health policy issues that improve patient care. HOPA’s membership includes oncology pharmacists, as well as pharmacy interns, residents, technicians, researchers, and administrators specializing in hematology/oncology practice. For more information, visit

About ONS

ONS is a professional association of more than 35,000 members committed to promoting excellence in oncology nursing and the transformation of cancer care. Since 1975, ONS has provided a professional community for oncology nurses, developed evidence-based education programs and treatment information, and advocated for patient care, all in an effort to improve quality of life and outcomes for patients with cancer and their families. Learn more at