Antineoplastic Drug Contamination on the Hands of Employees Working Throughout the Hospital Medication System

Hon C-Y, Teschke K, Demers PA, Venners S. Antineoplastic Drug Contamination on the Hands of Employees Working Throughout the Hospital Medication System. Annals of Occupational Hygiene 2014.

We previously reported that antineoplastic drug contamination is found on various work surfaces situated throughout the hospital medication system (process flow of drug within a facility from initial delivery to waste disposal). The presence of drug residual on surfaces suggests that healthcare workers involved in some capacity with the system may be exposed through dermal contact. The purpose of this paper was to determine the dermal contamination levels of healthcare employees working throughout a hospital and to identify factors that may influence dermal contamination. We selected participants from six hospitals and wiped the front and back of workers’ hands. Wipe samples were analyzed for cyclophosphamide (CP), a commonly used antineoplastic drug, using high-performance liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry. Participants were asked about their frequency of handling antineoplastic drugs, known contact with CP on their work shift, gender, job title, and safe drug handling training. In addition, participants were surveyed regarding their glove usage and hand washing practices prior to wipe sample collection. We collected a total of 225 wipe samples. Only 20% (N = 44) were above the limit of detection (LOD) of 0.36ng per wipe. The average concentration was 0.36ng per wipe, the geometric mean < LOD, the geometric standard deviation 1.98, and the range < LOD to 22.8ng per wipe. Hospital employees were classified into eight different job categories and all categories had some dermal contamination levels in excess of the LOD. The job category with the highest proportion of samples greater than the LOD were those workers in the drug administration unit who were not responsible for drug administration (volunteer, oncologist, ward aide, dietician). Of note, the highest recorded concentration was from a worker who had no known contact with CP on their work shift. Our results suggest that a broader range of healthcare workers than previously believed, including those that do not directly handle or administer the drugs (e.g. unit clerks, ward aides, dieticians, and shipper/receivers), are at risk of exposure to antineoplastic drugs. A review of control measures to minimize antineoplastic drug exposure that encompasses a wide array of healthcare workers involved with the hospital medication system is recommended.