Female Nurses Need More Training on Handling Hazardous Drugs, Study Shows

despite long-standing recommendations for the safe handling of antineoplastic and other hazardous drugs, many nurses, including pregnant nurses, reported not wearing protective gloves and gowns, the minimum protective equipment recommended when administering these drugs.

Female nurses who administer antineoplastic drugs – medications used to treat cancer – do not always wear protective clothing, according to a new NIOSH study published online in the American Journal of Nursing. It is one of the first studies to explore the use of antineoplastic drugs and PPE among non-pregnant and pregnant female nurses.

Nurses are exposed to antineoplastic drugs, or chemotherapeutic drugs, when they administer the drugs in pill or liquid form to patients who are battling all forms of cancer. NIOSH reported Jan. 9 that only a few studies have explored associations between occupational exposures to antineoplastic drugs and reproductive outcomes.

To explore this association further, survey data were collected from more than 40,000 nurses participating in the Nurses' Health Study, a web-based survey of U.S and Canadian nurses that began enrollment in 2010. Non-pregnant nurses reported their use of gloves and gowns when handling or administering antineoplastic drugs within the past month, and pregnant nurses reported their use during the first 20 weeks of pregnancy, a time during which the fetus is highly susceptible to exposure.

NIOSH reported that, despite long-standing recommendations for the safe handling of antineoplastic and other hazardous drugs, many nurses, including pregnant nurses, reported not wearing protective gloves and gowns, the minimum protective equipment recommended when administering these drugs. Of the nurses who said they administered antineoplastic drugs during the study period:

  • Twelve percent of non-pregnant nurses and 9 percent of pregnant nurses indicated that they never wore gloves when administering antineoplastic drugs.
  • Forty-two percent of non-pregnant nurses and 38 percent of pregnant nurses reported never using a gown.
  • During the first 20 weeks of pregnancy, about one in 10 pregnant nurses did not always wear gloves and one in two did not always wear a protective gown when administering these drugs.

"NIOSH has worked extensively to protect workers who handle antineoplastic drugs, many of which are known or probable human carcinogens," said Christina Lawson, Ph.D., epidemiologist and lead author of the study. "Many of these drugs can also damage a person’s fertility or harm a pregnancy, for example by causing a miscarriage or birth defects, so we wanted to look at the health of pregnant nurses for this study." She said the data "underscore the need for continued education and training to ensure that both employers and nurses—pregnant and non-pregnant—are fully aware of such hazards and of the recommended precautionary measures."

The study was the result of a collaboration between NIOSH researchers and investigators from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Harvard Medical School, and Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

Download Center

HTML - No Current Item Deck
  • Safety Management Software - Free Demo

    IndustrySafe Safety Software’s comprehensive suite of modules help organizations to record and manage incidents, inspections, hazards, behavior based safety observations, and much more. Improve safety with an easy to use tool for tracking, notifying and reporting on key safety data.

  • The Top 5 Safety and Technology Trends to Watch in 2020

    Get the latest on trends you can expect to hear more about in 2020, including continued growth of mobile safety applications, wearable technology, and smart PPE; autonomous vehicles; and increased adoption of international safety standard, ISO 45001.

  • Get the Ultimate Guide to OSHA Recordkeeping

    OSHA’s Form 300A posting deadline is February 1! Are you prepared? To help answer your key recordkeeping questions, IndustrySafe put together this guide with critical compliance information.

  • The 4 Stages of an Incident Investigation

    So, your workplace has just experienced an incident resulting in the injury or illness of a worker. Now what? OSHA recommends that you conduct investigations of workplace incidents using a four-step system.

  • Why Is Near Miss Reporting Important?

    A near miss is an accident that's waiting to happen. Learn how to investigate these close calls and prevent more serious incidents from occurring in the future.

  • Industry Safe
comments powered by Disqus

OH&S Digital Edition

  • OHS Magazine Digital Edition - November December 2019

    November / December 2019

    Featuring:

    • GAS DETECTION
      Redefining Compliance for the Gas Detection Buyer
    • FALL PROTECTION
      Don't Trip Over the Basics
    • VISION PROTECTION
      What to Look for in Head-to-Toe PPE Solutions
    • PROTECTIVE APPAREL
      Effective PPE for Flammable Dust
    View This Issue