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HazCom: Anticancer Drugs (Chemotherapy)

Anticancer drugs (also called chemotherapy) can save or prolong the lives of cancer patients. But they can pose a hazard to nurses and pharmacists who mix them or to housekeeping staff who clean up spills and remove waste. Follow the tips below, along with your employer’s safety standards, and you’ll help keep everyone safe.

Healthcare worker
Always wear the proper PPE when working with anticancer drugs.

Use PPE (Personal Protective Equipment)

  • Wear PPE during preparation and administration of drugs.

Work Safely

  • Mix drugs in a safety cabinet. For extra safety, use negative-pressure hypodermic needles to withdraw drugs.

Check Labels

  • Clearly label drugs and equipment and replace any torn labels.

Transport Safely

  • Hand-carry or transport materials in a leakproof container, such as a zipper-locked bag.

Disposing in sealed bag
Dispose of anticancer waste in sealed bags.

Dispose of Waste

  • All drug waste should be placed in sealed bags and discarded in properly labeled waste bins.

Clean Up Spills

  • Clean up spills immediately. Use a circular motion to wipe up spills, moving from outside in. Wear full protective clothing.

Know the Risk

Drugs that kill cancer cells can affect normal cells, too. Some of the side effects from exposure include birth defects and cancer.

Online Medical Reviewer: Grantham, Paula, RN, BSN
Online Medical Reviewer: MMI board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Last Review Date: 11/29/2013
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