Proper handling of hazardous drugs (HDs) is an emerging topic in healthcare settings across the country. The United States Pharmacopeia (USP) Convention is a pharmacy centric, nonprofit organization that sets standards around the quality and safety of medications. Guidelines created by government and regulating agencies for handling HDs have existed for years, but dedicated safe handling standards were not always adhered to or enforceable by these agencies. To address this issue, the USP Convention has released a new chapter USP <800> in their guidelines for standards related to safe handling of HDs. This has effectively made the long-standing recommendations enforceable by state, federal, and regulatory agencies.
The standard in USP <800> states that all HDs must be handled under conditions that promote patient safety, worker safety and environmental protection. This will apply to all healthcare personnel who are at risk for exposure to HDs from the initial delivery of the drug to the facility through the administration and disposal. The chapter addressed facility and engineering controls, spill control, cleaning, training, and documentation changes that must be in place prior to December 1, 2019.
HDs will primarily be handled by pharmacy and nursing personnel, but it will impact any personnel who handle HDs. It will be the responsibility of all personnel to understand the fundamental practices and precautions to prevent harm to patients, minimize exposure to personnel, and minimize contamination of work and patient care environments. While the potential for exposure of the other personnel to these products is very low, it is important to know how your role may be impacted. Refer to chart below to review your role.
HDs are categorized into three groups: anti-neoplastics, non anti-neoplastics, and reproductive hazards by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Personal protective equipment (PPE) requirements will vary depending on the HD group, activity being performed, and the formulation of the HD. A link to the ‘KH Hazardous Drugs PPE Requirements Chart’ for handling HDs will be available to all staff on the KaleidaScope pharmacy page and through Kaleida Links in the electronic medical record (EMR).