Risks to health professionals from hazardous drugs in Iran: a pilot study of understanding of healthcare team to occupational exposure to cytotoxics
Keywords:cytotoxic drugs, surface sampling, cleaning solutions, contamination, occupational exposure, questionnaire
Ongoing concerns exist regarding the dangers inherent when handling cytotoxics, particularly drugs which are in parenteral formulations. On occasions, nurses and medical doctors have been preparing and administrating these drugs in the open spaces of wards in the absence of suitable personal protective equipment (PPE) and safety cabinets. To explore further into the severity of occupational hazards, we conducted our research in order to evaluate the healthcare’s understanding of occupational exposure to cytotoxics and occurrence of any side effects. A cross-sectional study using a self-administered questionnaire was distributed amongst oncology nurses in nine specialized cancer centers in Tehran. The questionnaire was based on most reputable international guidelines, aiming to evaluate the attitude, knowledge and safe practices of nurses' handling cytotoxic drugs. The gathered data and reported side effects were compared between “oncology/hematology” and “non-oncology” participants. The majority of nurses from oncology wards were aware of the potential hazards associated with handling of chemotherapy and reported high levels of compliance with the use of PPE during reconstitution of antineoplastic agents. Almost all nurses reported the use of a safety cabinet during preparation, however only 55 % reported that they have annual medical checkups and 45 % reported having received specialized training. This work was also to evaluate the experimental procedures as well as cleaning solutions used to reduce the level exposure. While the level of knowledge about antineoplastic agents is high among nurses, along with the level of PPE use, medical surveillance and employee training seems to be lagging behind.
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