Adherence to Precautionary Guidelines for Compounding Antineoplastic Drugs: A Survey of Nurses and Pharmacy Practitioners
Precautionary guidelines detailing standards of practice and equipment to eliminate or minimize exposure to antineoplastic drugs during handling activities have been available for nearly three decades. To evaluate practices for compounding antineoplastic drugs, the NIOSH Health and Safety Practices Survey of Healthcare Workers was conducted among members of professional practice organizations representing primarily oncology nurses, pharmacists, and pharmacy technicians. This national survey is the first in over 20 years to examine self-reported use of engineering, administrative, and work practice controls and PPE by pharmacy practitioners for minimizing exposure to antineoplastic drugs. The survey was completed by 241 nurses and 183 pharmacy practitioners who compounded antineoplastic drugs in the seven days prior to the survey. They reported: not always wearing two pairs of chemotherapy gloves (85%, 47%, respectively) or even a single pair (8%, 10%); not always using closed system drug-transfer devices (75%, 53%); not always wearing recommended gown (38%, 20%); I.V. lines sometimes/always primed with antineoplastic drug (19%, 30%); and not always using either a biological safety cabinet or isolator (9%, 15%). They also reported lack of: hazard awareness training (9%, 13%); safe handling procedures (20%, 11%); and medical surveillance programs (61%, 45%). Both employers and healthcare workers share responsibility for adhering to precautionary guidelines and other best practices. Employers can ensure that: workers are trained regularly; facility safe-handling procedures reflecting national guidelines are in place and support for their implementation is understood; engineering controls and PPE are available and workers know how to use them; and medical surveillance, exposure monitoring, and other administrative controls are in place. Workers can seek out training, understand and follow facility procedures, be role models for junior staff, ask questions, and report any safety concerns.