A career in health care is not without its risks, and one of the risks is exposure to hazardous drugs. Although this risk has not generated much attention, studies have shown that health care personnel who work in areas where hazardous drugs are handled can have detectable levels of hazardous drugs in their bodies. While the effect of this exposure is not known, identifying ways to reduce the risk and increase employee safety is a high priority for health care leaders.
The United States Pharmacopeia released standards designed to improve the safety of health care workers by reducing exposure to hazardous drugs. Per USP, its General Chapter <800> “describes requirements, including responsibilities of personnel handling hazardous drugs; facility and engineering controls; procedures for deactivating, decontaminating and cleaning; spill control; and documentation. These standards apply to all health care personnel who receive, prepare, administer, transport or otherwise come in contact with hazardous drugs and all the environments in which they are handled.” Because USP is the source of sterile compounding standards for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Conditions of Participation and The Joint Commission, it is important to consider how to implement these standards if they are required by CMS and TJC after they go into effect on Dec. 1.
Compliance with USP <800> will require significant investments at many Missouri hospitals to meet the physical requirements for storage and handling of hazardous drugs. In addition, nursing practice will be affected by the personal protective equipment and procedural changes. Hospitals with oncology services will be affected the most, but USP <800> is not limited to chemotherapy. While previous lists of hazardous drug handling standards have been limited to oncology agents, this standard includes more than 100 other drugs as well. Hospitals will be required to make significant investments in the following.
- pharmacy construction and HVAC improvements
- policies and procedures
- personal protective equipment
Who does this effect?
- human resources
- occupational health
- facilities management
- infection control
- regulatory compliance team
Register for the webinar, “USP <800>: Understanding Organizational Impact of Safe Handling of Hazardous Drugs,” taking place on Thursday, Aug. 29, to learn more about these changes. And, watch for additional announcements and educational offerings from MHA.