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Hazardous Drug Exposure in the Healthcare Environment: Developing Best Practices for Exposure Prevention. Kathy Sperrazza RN, MS Doctoral Candidate University of Massachusetts Lowell School of Health and Environment MNA Congress on Health and Safety.

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Kathy sperrazza rn ms doctoral candidate university of massachusetts lowell

Hazardous Drug Exposure in the Healthcare Environment: Developing Best Practices for Exposure Prevention

Kathy Sperrazza RN, MS

Doctoral Candidate

University of Massachusetts Lowell

School of Health and Environment

MNA Congress on Health and Safety

National institute for occupational safety and health niosh
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)

  • ALERT - Preventing Occupational Exposures to Antineoplastic and Other Hazardous Drugs in Health Care Settings, September 2004

  • 5.5 million workers potentially exposed

Niosh alert

  • Warning – Working with or near hazardous drugs in health care settings may cause skin rashes, infertility, miscarriage, birth defects and possibly leukemia or other cancers.

Workers at risk for exposure
Workers at risk for exposure (NIOSH)

  • Nursing personnel

  • Physicians

  • OR personnel

  • Pharmacists/pharmacy technicians

  • Environmental services personnel

  • Veterinarians/Animal technicians

  • Shipping and receiving personnel

Background for hazardous drug use
Background for hazardous drug use (NIOSH)

  • Successful treatment of illness and injury

  • Almost all drugs have side effects

  • Exposure to very small concentrations may be hazardous

  • Potential therapeutic effects outweigh risk for patients

  • Healthcare personnel risk side effects without benefits

Drugs considered hazardous
Drugs considered hazardous (NIOSH)

  • Antineoplastic agents

  • Vaccines

  • Gonadotropins

  • Estrogens

  • Oxytocics

  • Contraceptives

  • Androgens

  • Antibiotics

  • Antivirals

  • Progestins

  • Misc. skin and mucous membrane agents

Evidence for health effects in workers
Evidence for health effects in workers (NIOSH)

  • Carcinogenicity of several antineoplastic drugs well established in animals by 1970’s

  • Therapeutic use of alkylating agents in humans linked to leukemias and other cancers

  • Studies indicate antineoplastic drugs may cause increased genotoxic effects in nurses and pharmacists

Developmental and reproductive effects
Developmental and reproductive effects (NIOSH)

  • 14 studies describe association between exposure to antineoplastic drugs and adverse reproductive effects such as:

    increased fetal loss

    congenital malformations

    low birth weight


Potential for exposure is growing
Potential for exposure is growing (NIOSH)

  • More and more new drugs/combinations of drugs

  • Developmental use of drugs, i.e. nanomedicines

  • Methods of treatment and administration to patients changing

  • Drugs are used in medical offices, free standing surgical and cancer treatment centers and in home care.

  • Contamination is widespread

Nanotechnology (NIOSH)

  • Nanometer is one billionth of a meter

  • Matter on near-atomic sized scale

  • Used to produce new structures, materials and devices

  • Unique properties at nanoscale level

  • Affect physical, chemical and biological properties

Emerging nanomedicine and bionanotechnology nanotechnology at northeastern university
Emerging Nanomedicine and Bionanotechnology (NIOSH)Nanotechnology at Northeastern University

Potential risks of nanomaterials
Potential Risks of Nanomaterials (NIOSH)

  • Need to understand, predict and manage potential health risks

  • Extremely small size may cause different interaction with human body

  • Studies have established that larger surface area of inhaled nanoparticles may increase toxicity

  • Can penetrate deep into lungs and may move to other areas of the body, i.e. liver and brain

Adverse effects
Adverse Effects (NIOSH)

  • The likelihood that a worker will experience adverse health effects from hazardous drugs increases with the amount and frequency of exposure and the lack of proper work practices

Work activities with the potential for exposure
Work activities with the potential for exposure (NIOSH)

  • Preparation, administration, and/or disposal of hazardous drugs

  • Handling body fluids

  • Handling/transporting contaminated waste

  • Decontamination and clean-up

  • Removal and disposal of PPE after exposure to contaminated waste

  • Performing specialized procedures i.e.: in OR, at the bedside

Routes of exposure
Routes of exposure (NIOSH)

  • Inhalation

    • Mixing liquids, expelling air from syringes, crushing pills, spills, priming an IV

  • Injection

    • Needlestick or sharps injury

  • Ingestion

    • Hand to mouth contact: eating/drinking in the work environment, handling food with contaminated hands

  • Absorption

    • Skin contact/absorption, handling contaminated materials

Current state of practice
Current state of practice (NIOSH)

  • Often inconsistent

  • May contain some of the program elements, but not all

  • May address some of the workers, but not all

  • May not be implemented and carried out

Mna survey hazardous drug information form 2006
MNA Survey: Hazardous Drug Information Form (NIOSH)2006

  • 2000 nurses surveyed at 3 facilities

  • 400 responses

  • 87% reported handling/administering hazardous drugs

  • Only 54% aware of programs re: safe handling of hazardous drugs and training

  • Only 30% read programs

  • Only 12% had classroom training

  • Only 6% had hands-on-training

Survey results cont
Survey results cont. (NIOSH)

  • Nurses do not identify many drugs they administer as hazardous

  • Continue to handle in same manner

  • Not aware of changes in controls

  • 70% use personal protective equipment, likely gloves

  • Use of face shields, and gowns or lab coats much less likely

  • 10% do not use any PPE

Some conclusions of mna survey
Some conclusions of MNA Survey (NIOSH)

  • Gap between NIOSH Alert and practice

  • Many nurses are unaware of issues of hazardous drug exposure and prevention programs

  • Nurses who were aware of and had read hazardous drug programs were much more likely (85.6%) to use PPE

Protecting nurses and other workers
Protecting nurses and other workers (NIOSH)

  • As required by

    • OSHA Hazard Communication Standard – 1910.1200

  • Education –

    • product information and MSDS for the drugs that are specific to work setting

    • recognize the sources of exposure

    • apply appropriate work practices

Protecting nurses and other workers1
Protecting nurses and other workers (NIOSH)

  • Training –

    • equipment and procedures for prevention

  • Administrative controls

    – work setting designed to protect workers

    providing appropriate PPE

    medical surveillance

    provide safe areas for staff to eat

Niosh suggests
NIOSH suggests: (NIOSH)

  • Follow recommendations that are presented in the ALERT

    • Assess hazards

    • Evaluate workplace

    • Review inventory of hazardous drugs

    • Seek input of workers with potential for exposure

    • Conduct training and evaluate practice

    • Reassess annually

Training includes
Training includes: (NIOSH)

  • Safe handling

  • Spill procedures

  • Equipment and PPE use

  • Reporting spills, exposures and symptoms

    • Who, how and where

  • Work practices

    • No eating or drinking in workplace

Medical surveillance
Medical surveillance (NIOSH)

  • Depending on exposure

    • Physical exam

    • CBC

    • Monitoring urine

      • dipstick or microscopic exam

    • Monitoring the work area

      • air and surface contamination

Incorporating all the requirements can be overwhelming
Incorporating all the requirements can be overwhelming!!! (NIOSH)

  • How

  • When

  • Where

  • Who

    • Is responsible

    • Must be trained

Developing a comprehensive model for prevention and implementation
Developing a Comprehensive Model for Prevention and Implementation

  • Identify problem

  • Seek resources, support, experts

  • Start or join group-enlist colleagues, other stakeholders

  • Investigate what is being done

  • Set goals/timeline

  • What are the barriers to prevention

  • Who is responsible/needs to be?

  • Develop process to assess prevention effectiveness

  • Collaborate! Don’t reinvent the wheel.