As an oncology nurse on a busy inpatient unit, I regularly see unsafe practices related to the administration of chemotherapeutic drugs (“Original Research: Antineoplastic Drug Administration by Pregnant and Nonpregnant Nurses: An Exploration of the Use of Protective Gloves and Gowns,” January). I am writing to show appreciation to Christina Lawson and colleagues for addressing this issue, which spans both age and childbearing status, and to advocate for stronger regulations regarding the handling of these hazardous drugs. The authors’ finding—that a significant number of nurses fail to follow long-standing guidelines to properly protect themselves when administering such drugs—demands further action.
Lawson and colleagues recommend further education and training for nurses who administer chemotherapeutic drugs. These are important but increased legislative regulation of hazardous drug handling is necessary to limit toxic exposure to nurses and other health care workers. States like Washington and California, for example, have passed laws to enforce proper handling of chemotherapeutic drugs.
An April 2017 article by Walton and colleagues in the Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing provides further information on this topic, including case studies and proactive suggestions for nurses interested in increased legislation.1 I support Walton and colleagues’ recommendation to get in touch with legislators and make toxic drug exposure a public issue. Public awareness, the support of health care workers, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration can help us take a stand against unnecessary exposure to hazardous drugs.
Kate Woodard, RN
1. Walton AL, et al Hazardous drugs: legislative and regulatory efforts to improve safe handling Clin J Oncol Nurs 2017 21 2 254–6