Provincial Guidelines for the Safe Handling, Administration and Disposal of Antineoplastic Agents
There have been increasing numbers of reports in the literature describing the possible effects of antineoplastic drugs on health care professionals (Fuchs et al., 1997; Grummt et al., 1993; Selevan et al., 1985; Valanis et al., 1997). It has therefore become imperative that staff are knowledgeable regarding the safe handling of antineoplastic drugs. The risk to health care professionals from handling a hazardous drug stems from its inherent toxicity and the extent to which workers are exposed to the drug. The primary routes of exposure are through direct skin contact and through inhalation of aerosolized drug products. Other potential exposure occurs during the disposal of the drugs, disposal of the items used in drug preparation and administration, and when caring for patients who have received these drugs.
Although the absolute risk cannot be eliminated, much can be done to reduce the relative risks associated with the handling of antineoplastic agents (Mayer, 1992). Health care professionals who handle antineoplastics are advised to be well informed of the potential health hazards, be familiar with safe handling and disposal of these agents, utilize appropriate protective equipment and adhere to available written policies, procedures and guidelines.
This evidence based document is intended to facilitate the standardization of institutional practice guidelines for the safe handling of antineoplastic agents across the Province of Ontario. Following these guidelines will assist in minimizing unnecessary exposure and maximizing safety.
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