USP Updates Standards that Protect Health Care Workers from Hazardous Drugs

Updated guidelines seek to decrease the risk of residual exposure to potentially dangerous medications.

A new health care quality standard has been released to help protect both care providers and patients.

The updated United States Pharmacopeia-National Formulary (USP-NF) includes a new general chapter, <800> Hazardous Drugs — Handling in Healthcare Settings, to decrease the risk of residual exposure to potentially dangerous medications.

USP <800> applies to physicians, nurses, veterinarians, pharmacists, and technicians in health care facilities that handle or store hazardous drugs to prevent and limit exposure.

“Health care workers are on the frontline of protecting patients and consumers from the risks of hazardous drugs but are also themselves at risk,” said USP Executive Vice President Jaap Venema. “Each year, approximately 8 million healthcare workers in the US are potentially exposed to hazardous drugs. Practitioners are frequently unaware of the scope of the risk or the measures that should be taken to reduce such risk. The new standard defines processes intended to minimize exposure to hazardous drugs in health care settings, thereby protecting healthcare workers as well as patients.”

This new standard developed by the USP Compounding Expert Committee, which builds upon other prior publications, included insight from a panel of medical industry experts. The panel helped guide best practices, different techniques, engineering controls, and other elements for handling hazardous drugs.

Since it may take health care facilities some time to comply with the new standards, the USP Compounding Expert Committee has approved an extended implementation date of July 1, 2018.