Veterinary health care employees that handle hazardous drugs face many health risks due to exposure. Chapter <800> Hazardous Drugs – Handling in Healthcare Settings, the latest chapter of the United States Pharmacopeia, aims to address those risks by putting into place standards that protect the health care worker. These standards require safe handling of all hazardous drugs in all healthcare settings, including veterinary clinics and hospitals, by July 1st, 2018.
Compliance components include, but are not limited to:
- Identification of hazardous drugs, which includes chemotherapeutic and immunosuppressive agents
- Implementing safe work practices, such as new policies and procedures
- Utilizing Personal Protective Equipment and Closed System Transfer Devices
- Adjusting infrastructure to include engineering controls, such as Biological Safety Cabinets and pressure controlled rooms
A Closed System Transfer Device (CSTD), as defined by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, is a system that mechanically prohibits the transfer of environmental contaminants into the system and the escape of hazardous drug or vapor outside the system. When the container(s) allow, USP <800> requires the use of CSTDs for both compounding and administration of hazardous drugs.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is a crucial part of protecting healthcare employees from hazardous drug exposure. USP <800> requires the use of PPE for all healthcare workers handling hazardous drugs. PPE may require the following components:
- Chemotherapy standardized gloves
- Chemotherapy gown