Chemosafety: How to Be Safe when handling Chemotherapy drugs
Chemotherapy, colloquially called “chemo”, uses strong medication to target and eradicate cancer cells. These can cause potential unnecessary harm to those without cancer, so it is safest to avoid contact with the drugs as much as possible. Around the world, many associations have set out guidelines for the safe handling of cytotoxic drugs which recommend the types of specific procedures and equipment that will offer maximum protection for the operator.
All medical, nursing and pharmacy staff must ensure they are familiar with the guidelines. Everyone, including those involved in the transport, preparation, administration and/or disposal of cytotoxic waste must attend appropriate training to ensure the protection of the operator, the environment and the patient. The training required differs on the position of the personnel and the recommendations via their professional bodies.
So what type of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) should be used and why?
- Gloves specifically manufactured for chemotherapy and that are powder and latex free are recommended
- All gloves should be long enough to cover wrist cuffs
- Gloves should be changed regularly especially immediately after drug administration or if contamination or puncture occurs
- Gowns must be worn when chemotherapy agents are being manipulated and administered
- Polyethylene-coated polypropylene or other laminate is recommended
- Ensure that your gowns are tested against cytotoxic drugs to ensure no risk of drugs or contaminants being passed through the lining
Eye & Face Protection
- Face protection such as face shields are recommended to be worn when administering and manipulating chemotherapy drugs or at any time there are identified risks of splashes or spillage
- Googles are also recommended to be worn as an added preventative measure as eye glasses and contact lenses are not adequate as there is considerate risk of absorption
- Masks are recommended to be worn throughout the process of drug manipulation and administration
- Masks need to be designed to protect against aerosolised particles and should be fit tested
- Masks should be changed regularly especially when contamination has occurred or when it no longer seals to the face
Key things to consider to avoid cross contamination:
- Ensure you are not using your phone, typing on a computer keyboard, programming IV pumps, opening doors and cabinets or touching other body parts when wearing contaminated gloves. Consider all touch points as potential risk areas and remember to consider anything touched while wearing contaminated gear
- Investigate all PPE before wearing for any defects or holes
- Make sure all disposable PPE is not reused and disposed of appropriately
Clean Room Garments are the market leaders in supplying contamination and infection control solutions to the Australasian market. We have a range of chemo safety products (including gowns, administration kits, spill kits and gloves just to name a few), that have been tested against cytotoxic drugs to ensure maximum safety for the wearer. Get in touch with us today to organise your chemo safety equipment.