A toolkit outlining the measures American oncology nurses should take to protect themselves from the dangers of handling hazardous drugs will become law by the end of 2019.

The USP 800 guidelines promote awareness and education to help healthcare workers involved in delivering chemotherapy to patients understand why and when they are at risk and what they can do to protect themselves.

To comply with the standards there are recommendations in the toolkit* for the preparation, storage, transport, administration and disposal of hazardous drugs as well as the benefits of closed system transfer devices (CSTDs).

The USP 800 guidelines have been drawn up by the United States Phamacopeia Convention, a non-profit organisation that sets standards around the quality and safety of medications. In putting together the toolkit, the USP has worked with a number of organisations including the Oncology Nurses Association (ONS), American system of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) and National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

The toolkit starts with outlining that chemotherapy drugs are considered to be hazardous because of their carcinogenic, teratogenic or toxic properties.

The health risks associated with these hazardous drugs include skin rashes, reproductive issues and an increased risk of cancer.

The section on the importance of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) addresses the type of use, the PPE needed and additional notes to prevent accidental exposure.

The USP 800 recommends that closed system transfer devices are used when compounding drugs and for administration when the drug dosage allows.

The toolkit also covers wipe testing, spill management and the safe handling of hazardous drugs in the home.

For full details of the *Toolkit for Safe Handling of Hazardous Drugs for Nurses in Oncology visit: https://www.ons.org/sites/default/files/2018-06/ONS_Safe_Handling_Toolkit_0.pdf