About My Health Careers Internship MedBlogs Contact us
Medindia LOGIN REGISTER
Advertisement

Exposure To Chemotherapy Creates 'Invisible Threat' to Health Care Workers

by Mohamed Fathima S on March 2, 2019 at 3:41 PM
Font : A-A+

Exposure To Chemotherapy Creates 'Invisible Threat' to Health Care Workers

Life-saving chemotherapy drugs for cancer patients are hazardous to healthcare workers who come in contact with them. Many healthcare workers do not use the recommended personal protection equipment such as gloves and gowns, despite the risks involved while handling chemotherapy.

A study from the University of Michigan Rogel Cancer Center sought to improve nurses' handling of chemotherapy by delivering an educational intervention with quarterly reminders and tailored messages. But despite the strong study design and quality intervention, it did not increase use of protective gear.

Advertisement


"We didn't really move the needle at all. As a practicing nurse it's disappointing. We were hoping we could develop a bundled intervention that cancer centers and others can use," says lead study author Christopher R. Friese, Ph.D., R.N., Elizabeth Tone Hosmer Professor of Nursing and a professor of health management and policy at the University of Michigan.

Exposure to chemotherapy occurs when health care workers inhale vapors or touch contaminated surfaces. Studies have found that nurses who reported handling hazardous drugs had twice the risk of reproductive problems. Other studies report incidences of rare cancers and various respiratory and skin conditions resulting from exposure.
Advertisement

"This is an invisible threat," Friese says. "It's unlike the needle stick where you know when you've been stuck by a needle. Early on we could understand that a needle stick conveyed serious health risks. With chemotherapy exposure, we don't have that smoking gun. This is a subtle threat, but it's a daily threat."

Guidelines from professional societies recommend protective gear including double gloves, eye protection and respirators. These were built into the intervention Friese and colleagues developed. It was a randomized trial including 396 nurses from 12 ambulatory cancer programs. In one arm, nurses received one-hour educational modules about personal protective equipment with tailored messaging addressing their reported barriers to use. They also were asked to report chemotherapy drugs spills and submit plasma samples for analysis. The control arm had only the educational modules.

After two years of the program, the researchers found little difference in the use of personal protection equipment between the two groups and no change over the course of the study. Results are published in Oncology Nursing Forum.

Researchers cite several possible reasons the intervention was not successful, including the quality of the content and technology barriers that made watching the video modules difficult. Another problem is that many of these protective devices are cumbersome. Workers report that the gear is hot, uncomfortable and difficult to apply and use safely.

Something must change, Friese says. Health care workers continue to report exposure hazardous drugs. An earlier study by Friese found nearly 17 percent of nurses who work in outpatient chemotherapy infusion centers said they had been exposed to chemotherapy on their skin or eyes.

"Health care workers face many challenges in these busy cancer centers, treating a lot of patients with complex needs using increasingly complex treatments," Friese says. "It's time for the field to reexamine the issue of hazardous drug exposure. Both leaders and frontline clinicians need to work together to make sure the people handling these drugs are doing so as safely as they can."

The researchers propose three ways to start moving the needle on the issue:

1. Engage health system leadership to have a dialogue with staff about personal protection for those who handle hazardous drugs.

2. Develop better personal protective equipment that is easy to use, affordable and protective against hazardous drug exposure.

3. Collect data through a registry to identify and track the health risks from exposure.

Friese uses the analogy of the airplane safety rule to put on your own mask before helping others.

"We need to really anchor that into our community," he says. "Unless you take good care of yourself, you can't be there to take good care of your patient."



Source: Eurekalert
Advertisement

Advertisement
News A-Z
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
News Category
What's New on Medindia
Resting Heart Rate
Is COVID-19 Vaccination during Pregnancy Safe?
Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)
View all

Medindia Newsletters Subscribe to our Free Newsletters!
Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.

More News on:
Health Insurance Plan Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia Hodgkins Lymphoma Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma New India Assurance Policies Chemotherapy Chemotherapy Drugs Peritoneal Cancer Rhabdomyosarcoma Male Breast Cancer 

Recommended Reading
Chemotherapy Drugs
Chemotherapy drugs perform like 'magic bullets' to destroy cancer cells in the body....
Chemotherapy
'Chemo' means medicine or 'drug'; 'therapy' means 'treatment'. Chemotherapy refers to the use of .....
Fifteen Most Common Chemotherapy Side Effects and Ways to Manage Them
Chemotherapy side effects depend on the chemotherapy treatment as there are varied types of ......
PUVA Therapy
PUVA or photochemotherapy is used to treat several skin disorders with the help of UV light and the ...
Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia
Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL) is one of the most common types of adult leukemia and is consider...
Health Insurance Plan
With a health insurance policy you and your family can rest assured!...
Hodgkins Lymphoma
Hodgkins lymphoma or Hodgkins disease has the distinction of being the first cancer to be cured by c...
Male Breast Cancer
Most cases of male breast cancer are diagnosed between the ages of 60 and 70 years. Treatment of mal...
New India Assurance Policies
The existing Mediclaim and Health Plus Medical expenses policies have been discontinued and Mediclai...
Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma
Non Hodgkins Lymphoma is a cancer that affects the lymph tissues. It is made up of a wide array of ....
Peritoneal Cancer
Peritoneal cancer is a rare cancer that develops in the peritoneum. Peritoneal cancers may be primar...
Rhabdomyosarcoma
Rhabdomyosarcoma is a rare type of cancer affecting the striated muscles. It mostly occurs in ......

Disclaimer - All information and content on this site are for information and educational purposes only. The information should not be used for either diagnosis or treatment or both for any health related problem or disease. Always seek the advice of a qualified physician for medical diagnosis and treatment. Full Disclaimer

© All Rights Reserved 1997 - 2021

This site uses cookies to deliver our services. By using our site, you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Cookie Policy, Privacy Policy, and our Terms of Use