Hazardous drug exposures is a workplace health risk for health care providers. Hazardous medications are ones that have been shown to have negative health consequences at low dosages. Hospitals, pharmacies, residential care and other community health centers, and veterinary services all use hazardous medications. Workers may be exposed if they work with dangerous pharmaceuticals or come into touch with contaminated materials, such as body fluids from previously treated patients or contaminated equipment and surfaces. 

Personnel may also be exposed by inhaling particles, aerosols, or vapors produced while handling hazardous medications in different dosage forms. Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, nurses, doctors, hospital porters and cleaning staff, community health workers, and veterinary personnel are all at risk.

What Exactly Are Hazardous Drugs (HDs)?

Hazardous drugs (HDs) are defined as compounds that exhibit one or more of the following properties: teratogenicity, genotoxicity, carcinogenicity, reproductive toxicity, or organ toxicity. Furthermore, newer medications with a structure or toxicological profile resembling an agent recognized as dangerous according to one of the above criteria should be classified as HDs. As recorded in several case reports and research, any HD-handling action might expose healthcare workers (HCWs).

Hazardous drug exposures is linked to acute symptoms such as nasal sores, hair loss, skin rash, allergic reactions, and dizziness , poor reproductive outcomes (such as miscarriage), genetic alterations (such as chromosomal abnormalities and sister-chromatid exchanges), and an increased risk of cancer.

What Variables Influence The Dangers Presented By Hazardous Drugs?

The likelihood of hazardous medications causing injury to healthcare personnel, as well as the degree of the harm, is determined by various variables, including:

  • The toxicity of a drug
  • The potency of a drug
  • Exposure route
  • The physical and chemical qualities of a medication
  • Drug creation
  • Activity at work

Cytotoxic medications used to treat cancer in patients are particularly dangerous, regardless of their composition. These medications have unique handling instructions from the manufacturer that must be followed at all times.

How Can You Manage the Risk of Hazardous Drug Exposure in Healthcare?

It is advised that employers examine the dangers particular to their workplace and establish hazard management measures to reduce such hazards in order to safeguard healthcare professionals. These could involve the implementation of administrative controls, such as safe handling policies, training, and standardized training reviews for potentially vulnerable personnel; the use of engineering controls, such as enclosures and ventilated hoods; and the requirement of personal protective equipment (PPE), such as gowns and chemotherapy gloves, as required.

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