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
  • Free Safety Management Software Demo

    IndustrySafe Safety Management Software helps organizations to improve safety by providing a comprehensive toolset of software modules to help businesses identify trouble spots; reduce claims, lost days, OSHA fines; and more.

  • Track Key Safety Performance Indicators

    IndustrySafe’s Dashboard Module allows organizations to easily track safety KPIs and metrics. Gain increased visibility into your business’ operations and safety data.

  • Analyze Incident Data

    Collect relevant incident data, analyze trends, and generate accurate regulatory reports, including OSHA 300, 300A, and 301 logs, through IndustrySafe’s extensive incident reporting and investigation module.

  • Safety Training 101

    When it comes to safety training, no matter the industry, there are always questions regarding requirements and certifications. We’ve put together a guide on key safety training topics, requirements for certifications, and answers to common training questions.

  • Conduct EHS Inspections and Audits

    Record and manage your organization’s inspection data with IndustrySafe’s Inspections module. IndustrySafe’s pre-built forms and checklists may be used as is, or can be customized to better suit the needs of your organization.

  • Industry Safe
comments powered by Disqus

OH&S Digital Edition

  • OHS Magazine Digital Edition - March 2019

    March 2019

    Featuring:

    • HEARING PROTECTION
      Not Your Grandpa's Ear Muffs 
    • FALL PROTECTION
      Far Too Many Fatal Falls
    • DRUG TESTING
      Marijuana in the Workplace
    • FALL PREVENTION
      Ladder Safety Tips
    View This Issue