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New Data Shows how Hazardous Drug Contamination is Putting Pharmacists and Nurses at Risk

Posted on Feb 16, 2018 by Miranda Schroeder


Although the United States Pharmacopeial Convention (USP) pushed the implementation date of USP Chapter <800> out to 2019, new data provides a push to implement the chapter as soon as possible to diminish risk of hazardous drug exposure to pharmacists and nurses. The use of closed-system drug-transfer devices (CSTDs) is one of the best ways to better protect health care workers who are compounding, handling, and administering hazardous drugs.

“While many hospitals and pharmacies that handle chemotherapy drugs use some protective measures such as using Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and engineering controls like clean rooms and biological safety cabinets, recent industry figures suggest that only 41% of facilities have adopted the use of closed system transfer devices (Kriheli).”

More and more studies are revealing widespread hazardous drug contamination in the pharmacy, nursing stations, and administration areas. Surface wipe sampling has brought light to this issue.

In 2015, a study led by occupational health expert Chun Yip Hon, PhD, revealed that no institution is immune to hazardous drug contamination. This contamination finds its way into the bodies of nurses, pharmacists, and other health care workers who work in the same areas. Dr. Hon’s group found that 55% of Canadian health care workers had traces of nonmetabolized cyclophosphamide in their urine (Shaw).

Poster (No. 79) presented at the Oncology Nursing Society annual meeting 2017 revealed that 74% of 17 chemotherapy infusion centers included in a National Cancer Institute (NCI) sampling study were reported to have hazardous drug residue under IV poles and on arms of infusion chairs. However, only 2% of centers tested positive for contamination after simulated use of CSTDs during chemo preparation(Shaw).

CSTDs are a proven technology shown to prevent CSTD contamination, so why aren’t facilities utilizing this device? Implementing CSTDs can be expensive. As studies continue to come out and facilities prepare for USP General Chapter <800>, CSTDs are a nonnegotiable. They are proven to significantly reduce exposure of hazardous drugs to pharmacists, nurses, and other health care workers. With health care worker safety at the center of implementing USP General Chapter <800>, there is no reason for facilities to wait when it comes to using CSTDs.

Is your facility working to get ahead of USP General Chapter <800>? USP offers an eLearning course to help you along your journey. Follow the link below to learn more.

Register for the course »

Miranda Schroeder

Written by Miranda Schroeder

Helmer designs, manufactures, and sells reliable medical-grade refrigeration. Miranda specializes in the pharmacy segment in regards to proper cold storage for refrigerated and frozen medications and vaccines.

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