Health and safety and environmental issues

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Chapter: Hospital pharmacy : Technical services

In recent years, healthcare professionals have become increasingly aware of health risks in the workplace, partly because of the introduction of the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations.


Health and safety and environmental issues

 

In recent years, healthcare professionals have become increasingly aware of health risks in the workplace, partly because of the introduction of the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations. In the case of technical services, particular risks identified relate to occupational exposure of hazardous materials, including solvents and powders used in classical manufacturing processes and cytotoxics and sensitising antibiotics handled by aseptic units. New pharmaceutical developments such as targeted toxins, gene therapy and viral vectors for drug delivery are entering clinical use. These new agents will present a particular challenge in aseptic preparation where measures to reduce or eliminate the risk of occupational exposure and cross-contamination of products must be adopted and validated. There is an urgent need to evaluate new ‘closed-system’ technologies for the safe hand-ling of toxic agents. Some of these devices, for example the Tevadaptor and PhaSeal systems, are already in limited use, but given the additional cost of these technologies it is essential that evidence of their effectiveness in reducing occupational exposure is obtained. The use of environmental monitoring services is also recommended for cytotoxic compounding units.

 

Environmental issues are of increasing significance. Controls to prevent the discharge into the environment of genetic material, biologicals and radio-active substances are likely to become more stringent at a time when the medicinal use of such agents continues to increase. Collaborative research to develop safe handling and containment systems is essential, together with other measures to reduce the amounts of medical and plastic waste produced by the technical services activities.

 

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