Safety First Blog

Leveraging Mobile Technology to Protect Healthcare Workers from Hazardous Drug Exposure

Posted by Laura Paxton on Jul 19, 2023 5:08:04 PM
Laura Paxton
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As you are well aware, ensuring safety in healthcare facilities goes beyond patient care; it also involves the important work of protecting healthcare workers from hazardous drug exposure. However, in an age of digital health and advanced technology, it's alarming that there are still healthcare professionals who resort to scouring the internet for safety information when dealing with hazardous drugs. This poses risks not only to their health but also to the overall safety standards of healthcare environments.

Previously we’ve shared the story of a nurse who turned to a Google search for safety information before administering a hazardous drug. We adamantly state that nurses should not have to turn to the internet to access the safety information they need to protect themselves from hazardous drug exposure. As healthcare facilities implement USP <800> hazardous drug safe handling guidelines, this type of situation should occur less and less. Also, we hope to see the number of healthcare workers exposed to hazardous drugs decrease. The CDC estimates that 8 million healthcare workers are exposed to hazardous drugs yearly. 

Making safety information accessible at the point of care within the Electronic Health Record (EHR) is a huge first step many healthcare systems are still working toward. The next step is making this vital information available on mobile devices like phones and tablets. 

Mobile devices are already being used within healthcare systems to scan patient wristbands, access the EHR and communicate with other physicians, nurses, or healthcare workers. Hazardous drug safe handling and disposal information should also be available on mobile devices for clinicians, pharmacists, environmental services workers, and any others who encounter hazardous drugs in their job. 

The benefits of making hazardous drug safety information available on mobile devices: 

  • Enable nurses and clinicians to access safety information in real-time as they are caring for patients in fast-paced healthcare environments
  • Prevents nurses and clinicians from leaving their workflow to access safety information
  • Easily expand the availability of safe handling and disposal information to other healthcare workers who come in contact with hazardous drugs like environmental services
  • Reduce the risk of accidental exposure to dangerous hazardous drugs and improve overall safety conditions

Rpharmy’s Rhazdrugs hazardous drug safety platform is cloud-based, making it simple to keep everyone in your organization up to date on hazardous drugs handling and disposal information. The bottom line is now every healthcare worker who encounters hazardous drugs in some form can access the information they need to protect themselves when and where they need it. 

For example, as the drugs come into your healthcare system, the shipping/receiving department can quickly and easily look up and follow the guidelines for the activities they are involved in. 

Pharmacy personnel, of course, are exposed during the preparation and packaging of hazardous drugs. Even though they access much of their information on a computer, mobile access simply ensures safety information is always available no matter where they may be at a given moment in their day.  

  • According to an article in Johns Hopkins Nursing, some clinicians and nurses may administer up to 250 doses of chemotherapy drugs per day. By making safety information available at the point of care and wherever it is needed, we can increase protection from hazardous exposure. 

When we think of exposure to the environmental services worker, we may primarily think of spill clean up, waste disposal, but they are also potentially exposed through the changing of linens, and other duties. Because environmental services may not access a computer for many of their duties, a mobile device with access to the safety protocol specific to their job is necessary. 

Bottomline: By making it easier and faster to access hazardous drug safe handling and disposal information, healthcare workers are better informed and, therefore, better protected from the dangerous and even deadly effects of hazardous drugs exposure. 

If you have questions about USP <800> and how to reduce the exposure to hazardous drugs within your organization, we are here to help. We’ve made many resources available to support you during this challenging and important process. Check out our recent USP <800> Preparedness webinar series here and our Hazardous Drug Safety Resource Page as well as our Safety First Blog, where we discuss important topics. As always, we’re here for you! 

Topics: Rhazdrugs, Policy, USP <800>, Formweb

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