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Safe Handling of Hazardous Medications

January 11 , 2018

From the office of the Medication Management Safety Team and Occupational Health, Safety & Wellness.

Covenant Health, in collaboration with Alberta Health Services (AHS), has developed a Hazardous Medications Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Guide. This is one of the many steps being taken to protect the health and safety of our patients and staff. This includes all members of the medical staff, students, volunteers, and others acting on behalf of Covenant Health including all contracted service providers.

Exposure
Hazardous medications may pose a health risk from exposure in the workplace due to the medication's inherent toxicity. Exposure to hazardous medications may occur through inhalation, eye/skin contact, ingestion or injection during the following work activities:

  • receiving, unpacking, storage and delivery of hazardous medications.
  • preparing and administering hazardous medication(s)
  • handling and disposing of materials that have or may have come in contact with hazardous medications
  • disposing of hazardous medications or contaminated materials such as human waste.

Changes
Over the next few months you will notice a number of changes to help us implement these practices. Beginning in February, hazardous medications will be identified on the medication administration records. There will be new labelling on the packaging of hazardous medications.

Adjustments to ordering and stocking of personal protective equipment and other items in work areas may be required. CPSM can help you orider the approprate amount of stock based on your area's use of hazardous medications - contact for assistance.

Resources
In addition, educational material has been developed and will be rolled out to raise awareness about this initiative. For more information and educations resources visit the Medication Management page on the Medical Staff Portal and CLiC pages. Information there includes:

  • Alberta Health Services and Covenant Health Hazardous Medication PPE Guide and list
  • Safe Handling of Hazardous Medication Notice.
  • Safe Handling of Hazardous Medication Tip Sheet.

The Safe Handling of Hazardous Medication Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document and addition educational resources will be coming soon.

Program Managers will be responsible for documenting the education of their teams, every discipline, and ensuring supplies are ordered and in place for go live.

Working Group
Medication Management and Occupation Health, Safety & Wellness have formed a working group of stakeholders from across the organization who will review any questions or concerns associated with implementing this change. To have your question or concern reviewed by the working group, please forward them to Occupational Health, Safety & Wellness at OHS@covenanthealth.ca or Medication Management at Medication. Management@covenanthealth.ca.

Members of this working group will be accountable for disseminating information related to this initiative, including resources as they become available widely with their portfolios including with other sites. This includes staff education requirements and supply order information.

Safe Handling of Hazardous Medications  

Key Points
Covenant Health has developed a Hazardous Medications Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Guide for the safe handling of hazardous medications by all members of the medical staff, students, vounteers, and other persons acting on behalf of Covenant Health (including contracted services providers as necessary).

All hazardous medications on the Covenant Health Hazardous Medication List will be labeled. New auxilary labels have been developed and Pharmacy Services will label these medications when they are dispensed within Covenant Health sites. Follow best practices as outlined in the Hazardous Medication Personal Protective (PPE) Guide when working with these medications to ensure your safety.

Hazardous medications may pose a health risk from exposure in the workplace due to the medication's inherent toxicity. Occupational exposure to hazardous medications may occur through inhalation, eye/skin contact, ingestion or injection.

Exposure to hazardous medications may occur during the following work activities:

  • receiving, unpacking, storage and delivery of hazardous medications,
  • preparing and administering the hazardous medications;
  • handling and disposing of materials that have or may have come into contact with these medications and disposing of hazardous medications and of contaminated materials such as human waste.

Who is at Risk?

  • Pharmacy Services staff - Pharmacists, Pharmacy Technicians, Pharmacy Assistants and Students
  • Frontline Clinical staff - Nursing staff, Physicians, Health Care Aides, Laboratory Technologists, Diagnostic Imaging Technologists. Paramedics, Respiratory Therapists, Students
  • Frontline Non-Clinical Staff - Unit Clerks, Porters, Contacting Procurement and Supply Management staff, Services staff (e.g. Protective Services)
  • Linen and Environmental Services Staff
  • Nutrition and Food Services

Hazard Assessment and Control
Please refer to your position based Hazard Assessment to ensure safe handling of hazardous medications related to your job is included. If PPE is identified as a control measure to refer to the Hazardous Medication PPE Guide to select the appropriate PPE for the work activity to be performed. If you do not have a Hazard Assessment or would like assistance, please contact your site Safety & Hygeine Consultant from Occupational Health, Safety & Wellness (network access required).

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Choose the right PPE. Make sure it fits properly and confortably and follow proper donning and doffing procedures so that your are protected.

Note: Ensure hands are clean before donning PPE. Wash hands with soap and water after removing PPE to reduce contamination from hazardous medications.

First Aid Measures

  1. Eyes: Immediately flush eyes with large amounts of gentle flowing water for at least 15 minutes. Seek immediate medical attention.
  2. Skin (absorpotion): Wash the exposed area immediately with water for 15 minutes while removing contaminated clothing. Seek immediate medical attention.
  3. Inhalation: Move to fresh air. Seek immediate medical attention.
  4. Ingestion: Seek immediate medical attention.
  5. Injection/needle stick: Wash area with water and allow injury area to bleed freely, cover it and seek immediate medical attention.

Hazardous Waste Handling

Treat all disposahle PPE used in preparation, administration and handling, and associated supplies and medications as hazardous waste. Dispose of all hazardous waste as per the established processes and the Hazardous Medications PPE Guide.

For more information please refer to the AHS/Covenant Health Hazardous Medications PPE Guide and List on CompassionNET (network access required).

For further questions about the Safe Handling of Hazardous Medicattions, please contact Medication Management; for question around PPW, please contact your Safety & Hygeine Consultant from Occupational Health, Safety & Wellness (network access required).

Resources

  • Alberta Health Services/Covenant Health: Hazardous Medications Personal Protective Equipment Guide: Reducing Occupational Exposure to Hazardous Medications for all Staff.
  • Handling Hazardous Human Waste Frequently Asked Questions.
  • Hazardous Medications Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Guide Tip Sheet
  • Waste Management at CompassionNET (network access required)

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