Chemotherapy Handling Concerns!

  1. Hello,
    I am new to oncology and have some concerns about how Chemotherapy is handled at my work. First, they use NO type of PPE when mixing, drawing up or hanging Chemo. Not even gloves. I asked about this when I first started working and they told me it was not necessary. ..
    Also the room where the chemo is stored, mixed and thrown away is the same room where all the charting is done. Maybe its just me but sitting in a tiny room next to a open bin filled with hundreds of used Chemo vials doesn't seem safe.
    I wonder if I should start looking for a New Job!
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    About Daisy212

    Joined: Sep '11; Posts: 7; Likes: 3


  3. by   ChrisNZ
    I'm just a nursing student starting in a week and a halves time.

    But I've spent my fare share of time up in oncology both inpatient and outpatient in New Zealand.

    The whole thing sounds kind of dodge, when I was in outpatient oncology I could occassionally see through the nursing station window to chemical hazard room where fully decked out pharmacists (I'm pretty sure they were pharmacists) were head to toe covered making up the chemo orders.

    I'm sure the nurses on this forum will have much better advice than myself.
  4. by   Daisy212
    Thank you for your input. When I was in school I remember seeing the same thing. This is part of the reason why I know something is not right.
  5. by   FlyingScot
    You mix your own chemo?!!! Egads, that's what pharmacists are for.
  6. by   sapphire18
    Is this a joke? I almost never handle chemo, but you need special chemo gloves, and it is disposed of in special containers in the dirty utility room. Chemo is ..obviously.. HIGHLY toxic. I think JCAHO needs to take a visit to that place.
  7. by   Daisy212
    No joke! Although I wish it was. I should also mention that they EAT in the chemo/charting room!!!!!
  8. by   Daisy212
    Yep, no pharmacist.
  9. by   CapeCodMermaid
    I've never worked in oncology but I did have chemotherapy years ago. The nurses all wore industrial strength know like Playtex Living Gloves...any time the handled the bag or tubing. One of them yelled across the room to her co-worker just before she stuck the needle in my vein "Don't touch's POISON!!!" um....timing not so good...
  10. by   nurseprnRN
    sounds like time to call in the big guns. this is unsafe and not standard of care.
    resources from the oncology nursing society on safe handling of chemotherapy agents,
    the links below are all live at the original, sorry they wouldn't all copy over here for me.

    resources available from sources outside of ons.

    here are the niosh guidelines: niosh - preventing occupational exposure to antineoplastic and other hazardous drugs in health care settings - publication no. 2004-165 - recommendations
    too long to all quote here, but "eat lunch in the same room as the used chemo agent vials" isn't in there. print them out and hand copies to your facility risk manager, clinical manager, and chief of staff, and make sure they all know that they all got it.
  11. by   apocatastasis
    Your co-workers ought to watch the interview with Sue Crump, a pharmacist who died a year or two ago after a battle with cancer, quite likely caused by her lack of protection for years while mixing chemotherapy.

    You can watch it here: Video: Lifesaving Drugs - Deadly Consequences: Sue Crump, In Her Own Words | Watch KCTS 9 Connects Online | KCTS 9 Video .

    One of the saddest things I've seen on the internet.
  12. by   ZenLover
    A very long time ago I worked as a pharmacy tech in a hospital. I hand made all of the Hyperals, morphine syringes and audited the controlled substance paperwork. For as trusted as I was, the pharmacists never allowed me to make up the chemo drugs. Not that they didn't trust me to do it...but it was dangerous and all of them took this seriously and chose to take that task on personally. They fully dressed, with the blue gloves, not the thin exam gloves, masks and white coverall. The chemo drugs were also prepared in a special flow hood that absolutely nothing else was prepared in. The Medical University of SC pharmacy followed these same procedures during my rotations while I was in school as well. The vials, needles and syringes were all disposed of in sealed bags that had the universal chemo / warning symbol on the outside of the bag. Everything was disposed of in the bag and the bag sealed under the flow hood. The bag was then taken and put in a special container just like you have special containers for sharps.

    Also..if you are a woman and you think you may be or could be pregnant it doesn't matter what kind of precautions you take, you simply can not mix. Men are not advised to mix if they are actively trying to get their spouse pregnant either.

    If precautions are not being taken, I would find another job but not before making a few phone calls and hopefully saving some lives and a lot of grief.
  13. by   FlyingScot
    You know, I think I'd be making an anonymous call to OSHA about this.
  14. by   Daisy212
    Thank you for all the information! I will definitely be making some calls.
    Last edit by Daisy212 on Jan 29, '12