NIOSH: Aerosolized Medications Not Always Handled Safely
A new NIOSH study shows that safe handling precautions for aerosolized medications are not universally practiced in healthcare settings. Researchers examined respiratory care practitioners’ handling of pentamidine, a drug classified by NIOSH as hazardous at the time of the survey, and the antibiotics amikacin, colistin, and tobramycin, which were not classified as hazardous drugs. Practitioners reported not wearing protective gloves more than 20 percent of the time while administering these aerosolized medications, and almost 70 percent said they didn’t always wear a protective gown. According to NIOSH, a quarter of the pentamidine-administering practitioners who were surveyed reported that they’d never been trained, and researchers found that those administering pentamidine were more likely to take home potentially contaminated clothing. One major barrier to the use of personal protective equipment for practitioners who administer both pentamidine and the antibiotics is the perception that aerosolized medications are “not as dangerous as other chemicals,” researchers reported. “Although the antibiotics evaluated are not considered hazardous drugs, respiratory care practitioners should nonetheless follow safety guidelines as a precautionary measure, as adverse health effects have been observed with exposure to these antibiotics,” NIOSH’s press release reads. “This precautionary approach should minimize exposure of practitioners and bystanders to fugitive aerosols while patients receive aerosol therapy.” The article “Precautionary Practices of Respiratory Therapists and Other Health-Care Practitioners Who Administer Aerosolized Medications” was published in the October issue of Respiratory Care. For more information, see NIOSH’s press release.
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