Hazardous Drug Handling

To keep our employees safe, Cooper University Health Care continually evaluates the required personal protective equipment (PPE), safe work environment, best practices, and employee education concerning materials you may encounter throughout your daily routine. This includes hazardous drugs (HDs) as defined and categorized by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). If you do not wear PPE when handling hazardous drugs, your risk to exposure becomes greater in the event of an emergency.

Cooper requires mandatory PPE training for new employees and an annual refresher course for all employees. Cooper also provides courses on what to do in case of an exposure/spill incident, including how to notify your manager about the incident and how to submit a report in the EARS system. In addition, Cooper collaborates with WorkNet to ensure the health and safety of any employee exposed to an occupational hazard, including HDs. For more information, please visit the Cooper Policy Network (CPN) and review policy “Chemical Spills 4.315.”

Cooper evaluates new drugs added to the hospital formulary based on the criteria found in the NIOSH document for HD handling, as well as other resources from the manufacturer. NIOSH is supported by many agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which require that PPE be worn based on the activities being performed.

Who is at risk for exposure? From the time that HDs are received at the hospital to the time that they leave as waste, anyone can be at risk for exposure. Even outer packaging may contain trace amounts of HDs, despite our best efforts. That is why required PPE is so important for you, your co-workers, and the safety of our working environment.

Key areas and personnel:

  • Dock and Pharmacy receiving area.
  • Pharmacy compounding areas.
  • Medication delivery.
  • Patient unit and med room.
  • Nurse administration (at bedside/room).
  • Housekeeping (spills).
  • EVS/waste management and receptacles.
  • Linen management and receptacles.

Please see your departmental manager with specific questions regarding PPE, proper handling of HDs, and the corporate policy for how to handle HD medications. For additional information, please visit the CPN and review “Hazardous Drug Policy 3.136.”