Safety considerations for personnel, pet owners, and the environment

The importance of attention to appropriate safety precautions in handling hazardous drug (HD) preparations in the clinic setting cannot be overemphasized. The veterinarian is legally and ethically obligated to educate staff regarding safe handling of chemotherapeutic drugs. Lack of staff communication and training in chemotherapy protocols could lead to an Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigation, fines, and lawsuits. Staff should have access to relevant Material Safety Data Sheets and be made aware of the toxicity of any chemotherapeutic agent that is used in the practice.

For the purposes of these guidelines, HDs will be used interchangeably with chemotherapeutic agents. A complete list of HDs has been compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).28Improper handling can lead to unintended exposure to cytotoxic agents that are mutagenic, teratogenic, or carcinogenic. For example, exposure of healthcare workers to HDs has been confirmed by the presence of HD metabolites in urine.29 For this reason, safety is a paramount consideration for everyone involved with chemotherapy.