Survey Finds That Many Do Not Follow Antineoplastic Handling Recommendations

December 12, 2014 | Strategic Insights for Ambulatory Care


​Exposure to antineoplastic drugs, which are used for a variety of medical applications, including treatment of cancer and other diseases (e.g., arthritis, multiple sclerosis), can cause harm to those who handle them if proper precautions are not taken; however, a survey by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) found that many nurses who administer these drugs do not follow safe handling recommendations, according to an article in the November 2014 issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene. More than 2,000 respondents, mostly nurses, answered the survey questions, which focused on chemotherapy drug administration practices, the use of exposure controls, and impediments to personal protective equipment (PPE) use. Most of the nurses worked in hospitals or ambulatory care facilities, and more than half of the respondents had administered antineoplastic drugs for 11 years or more. The median number of chemotherapy drugs administered per week was 7, with a range of 1 to 74. The vast majority of respondents received training (95%), but for 36% of respondents, the training occurred more than a year prior; the authors point out that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends that workers who handle hazardous drugs receive information and be trained on an annual basis.

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