The occupational dangers from hazardous drugs in oncology have received lots of media attention recently, but hazardous drug exposure, especially to nurses, is not limited to caring for cancer patients, as an article in the March-April issue of MedSurg Nursing points out.
“Occupational hazardous drug exposure among non-oncology nurses”  addresses the definition of the term hazardous, routes of exposure, and adverse effects.
Some examples where hazardous drugs are handled and administered with a potential for exposure in non-oncology areas are:
- Operating room: Administering chemotherapy into body cavities for tumors, including mitomycin C treatment, and bladder instillation for invasive bladder cancer.
- Obstetrics: Use of methotrexate in the treatment of many solid tumors and tubal ectopic pregnancy.
- Rheumatology: Use of hazardous drugs to treat autoimmune and chronic systemic inflammatory disorders.
- Neurology: Many of the drugs considered most effective for the relapsing form of multiple sclerosis are considered hazardous drugs.
According to the article:
“Unless nurses recognize the potential for exposure, they are unlikely to implement safe handling precautions. Until HD [hazardous drug] safe handling precautions become universal, similar to those used for protection from blood and body fluid exposure, nurses are at risk for adverse health outcomes associated with HD exposure.” The article addresses the definition of term hazardous, risks, and adverse health effects of occupational hazardous drug exposure.