Background Occupational exposure to hazardous drugs (HDs) is a mounting public health concern. Nevertheless, currently there are not harmonised standards for the prevention of HDs’ exposure.
Purpose To implement a comprehensive regional strategy (CRS) addressing guidance on safe handling of HDs in order to minimise healthcare workers’ exposure based on the harmonisation of safety standards and practices among hospitals.
Material and methods A 32-item online questionnaire about general information, preparation and administration of HDs was carried out to investigate the current situation of training and awareness among workers of 34 regional public hospitals (RPH).
A multidisciplinary working group, involving 40 health professionals (including hospital pharmacists, oncology nurses, occupational medicine professionals and warehouse logistics managers) from 14 different hospitals was formed in 2017 to formally achieve consensus on the management of HDs.
A formal education plan was implemented, providing online and face-to-face train-the-trainers courses to all health professionals involved in the preparation and administration of HDs.
Results Overall, survey results showed heterogeneous procedures concerning NIOSH table 1 drugs and deficiencies in training and in awareness regarding handling of the other HDs.
In January 2018 Resolution 51/2018 was published. This was the first formal European framework establishing mandatory practice standards on safe handling of HDs for 34 RPH.
One of the most remarkable points of Resolution 51/2018 is the creation of HDs’ Committees in each hospital, which ensure compliance with the reporting standards and promoting supplementary and specific protocols if necessary.
Additionally, the aforementioned resolution includes two monographic annexes on closed-system transfer devices and personal protective equipment. Further recommendations related to drug preparation, administration and reception, have been also carried out.
So far, 413 training-trainers have completed the formal education plan and 4155 healthcare workers have finished online training courses.
In April 2018 the CRS was presented at the European Parliament during the conference named ‘The problem of HDs in the healthcare sector in Europe’.
Conclusion Protection from HDs’ exposure depends on adherence to safety programmes, as well as other factors.
A comprehensive approach based on the harmonisation of safety standards, the engagement in safety culture and appropriate practice techniques among hospitals could minimise worker exposure to HDs.
References and/or acknowledgements Hazardous Drugs Working Group.
No conflict of interest.