Protective Clothing Use when Administering Antineoplastic Drugs

Nurses are exposed to antineoplastic drugs, or chemotherapeutic drugs, when
they administer these drugs in pill or liquid form to patients who are battling
all forms of cancer. The drugs, while working to kill rapidly dividing
cancerous cells of a patient can also be harmful to the healthy dividing cells
of the nurse, including the cells of a developing baby. Female nurses who
administer antineoplastic drugs - medications used to treat cancer - don't
always wear protective clothing, according to a new NIOSH study published
online in the American Journal of Nursing.

Only a few studies have explored associations between occupational exposures to
antineoplastic drugs and reproductive outcomes. In order to explore this
association further, survey data were collected from more than 40,000 nurses
participating in the Nurses' Health Study 3, 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.

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

Specifically, of the non-pregnant nurses and pregnant nurses who said they
administered antineoplastic drugs during the study period:
- Twelve percent of non-pregnant nurses and 9% of pregnant nurses indicated
that they never wore gloves when administering antineoplastic drugs.
- Forty-two percent of non-pregnant nurses and 38% 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.

Further Information

AplusA-online.de - Source: The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)