Protecting Healthcare Workers from Exposure to Hazardous Drugs
FRANKLIN LAKES, N.J., April 19, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — Every day, nurses and pharmacists handle chemotherapy and other hazardous drugs in the workplace, some of which have been known to cause cancer, reproductive and developmental problems, allergic reactions and other adverse effects that can be irreversible even after low-level exposure.[i] To help raise awareness of the risks healthcare providers face when handling hazardous drugs, National Safe Handling Awareness Day was created in 2009 and is acknowledged every year on April 20.
In recognition of this year’s National Safe Handling Awareness Day, BD (Becton, Dickinson and Company) (NYSE: BDX), a leading global medical technology company, is hosting a complimentary webinar on the dangers associated with exposure to hazardous drugs. The online event – “How Do We Achieve Safety?” – focuses on guidelines and solutions available to help keep healthcare providers safe when performing their daily responsibilities.
“Hazardous drug exposure is a real issue. In fact, in a recent study from the University of Michigan, nearly 17 percent of nurses from outpatient chemotherapy infusion centers reported experiencing skin or eye exposure to the hazardous drugs they administer,” said Lynne Kelley, MD, Worldwide Vice President, Medical Affairs, BD Medical – Medical Surgical Systems. “We’re committed to helping educate healthcare workers about these risks, and this webinar will provide information, guidelines and best practices to reduce harmful exposure.”
The webinar will broadcast live on Friday, April 20, 2012, at 1 p.m. & 3 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, and can be accessed at www.bd.com/shad or www.statce.com/SHAD2012. Both airtimes will be followed by a live Q&A with the presenters:
- E. Thomas Carey, PharmD, Director of Pharmacy Services, SwedishAmerican Hospital
- Seth Eisenberg, RN, OCN, Professional Practice Coordinator, Infusion Services, Seattle Cancer Care Alliance
- Millie Toth, MS, RN, AOCN, Senior Nurse Instructor, Nursing Professional Development and Education, MD Anderson Cancer Center
For those unable to attend live, an audio recording will be available on demand at www.statce.com/HowDoWeAchieveSafety.
While the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has issued guidelines to help minimize healthcare provider exposure to hazardous drugs, no state requirements currently exist that mandate the use of specific processes or technologies to eliminate the risk of exposure. The same properties that enable chemotherapy drugs to kill cancer cells can also damage normal cells in healthy workers. Without precautions such as proper ventilation, use of protective equipment or closed-system transfer devices being taken, the preparation, administration and disposal of these drugs can expose workers to potentially harmful levels of chemicals.
“Because the effects of exposure to hazardous drugs can have a long latency of onset resulting from chronic, but low dose exposures, it’s difficult for healthcare workers to maintain the vigilance needed to consistently handle these drugs safely,” said Melissa McDiarmid, MD, MPH, DABT, Professor and Director of the Occupational Health Program at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. “Although several studies have linked exposure in the workplace to infertility, miscarriage and cancer, connecting such outcomes to drug exposure can be challenging. Even more difficult is translating these reported health outcomes into motivation to make protective, work practice changes. The goal should be to develop a dual mindset in our clinical practice, such that we provide competent and safe care for our patients, while being mindful of our own health.” A 2010 study by McDiarmid and her colleagues documented chromosomal abnormalities in healthy nurses and pharmacists who worked with chemotherapy agents.[ii]
The World Health Organization (WHO) predicts a 50 percent increase of cancer cases over the next 20 years. This, combined with more potent chemotherapy drugs – as well as an increase in the use of hazardous drugs to treat non-malignant illnesses – will continue to elevate the risk of exposure.
About National Safe Handling Awareness Month
Now in its fourth year, National Safe Handling Awareness Month (April) was created to raise awareness of the occupational risks associated with handling hazardous drugs and educate healthcare providers on the guidelines and safety measures that may be taken to prevent hazardous drug exposure. As the highlight of National Safe Handling Awareness Month, National Safe Handling Awareness Day (April 20) brings together national and regional educational opportunities collectively aimed at preserving the health and wellbeing of the oncology healthcare professionals who devote their lives to helping others. National Safe Handling Awareness Month and Day are officially endorsed by the International Society of Oncology Pharmacy Practitioners (ISOPP).
BD is a leading global medical technology company that develops, manufactures and sells medical devices, instrument systems and reagents. The Company is dedicated to improving people’s health throughout the world. BD is focused on improving drug delivery, enhancing the quality and speed of diagnosing infectious diseases and cancers, and advancing research, discovery and production of new drugs and vaccines. BD’s capabilities are instrumental in combating many of the world’s most pressing diseases. Founded in 1897 and headquartered in Franklin Lakes, New Jersey, BD employs approximately 29,000 associates in more than 50 countries throughout the world. The Company serves healthcare institutions, life science researchers, clinical laboratories, the pharmaceutical industry and the general public. For more information, please visit www.bd.com.
[i] Friese CR, Himes-Ferris L, Frasier MN, et al. BMJ Qual Saf (2011)
[ii] JOEM 2010;521028-1034
SOURCE BD-Becton Dickinson