Safe Handling of Hazardous Drugs: ASCO Standards

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Journal of Clinical Oncology


Purpose: To provide 2019 ASCO standards on the safe handling of hazardous drugs.

Methods: An Expert Panel was formed, and a systematic review of the literature on closed system transfer devices was performed to May 2017 using PubMed. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, PubMed, and Google Scholar were used to search for studies of medical surveillance and external ventilation/health effects of exposure to vapors to November 2017. Available standards were considered for endorsement. Public comments were solicited and considered in preparation of the final manuscript.

Results: The search for primary research found no studies that addressed health outcomes as they relate to the identified interventions of interest. The ASCO Expert Panel endorses the best practices for safe handling of hazardous drugs as issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, US Pharmacopeia Chapter 800, and Oncology Nursing Society with clarifications in four key areas: medical surveillance, closed system transfer devices, external ventilation of containment secondary engineering controls or containment segregated compounding areas, and alternative duties.

Conclusion: The ASCO standards address the need for clear standards concerning safe handling of hazardous oncology drugs. More research is needed in several key areas to quantify the level of risk associated with handling hazardous drugs in current workplace settings where the hierarchy of controls is consistently applied. Additional information is available at www.asco.org/safe-handling-standards .

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Publication Date

Spring 3-1-2019