chemotherapy

Europe and Canada set more controls on workplace chemo

 

‘Contamination is everywhere,’ expert warns

By Carol Smith

InvestigateWest

Read the whole package here.

In the United States, there’s a lot of discussion about the difficulties of requiring hospitals and clinics to prove they are not contaminating their workers with toxic drugs.

But some other countries are already doing that.

In Holland, health care workers can choose to be monitored for exposure and work areas must be tested for contamination. Germany, Austria and Belgium also have aggressive safety programs regulating chemo agents. The United Kingdom and France impose strict regulation on veterinary practices handling chemo. In Canada, British Columbian hospitals do monthly safety inspections and a major union there is preparing to track nurses’ health histories to link exposures to disease.

 “Contamination is everywhere, even at the best organized facilities,” said Paul Sessink, a chemist and toxicologist who has performed monitoring in about 300 hospitals around the world. European countries are moving to make worker safety regulations stronger, he said, while the U.S. appears almost exclusively focused on patient safety.

Lifesaving Drugs, Deadly Consequences

Byline: 

‘Secondhand chemo’ puts healthcare workers at risk

 

Healthcare worker? Take our survey here.

 

Chelsea Crump kisses her mother, Sue Crump

 

Sue Crump braced as the chemo drugs dripped into her body. She knew treatment would be rough. She had seen its signature countless times in the ravaged bodies and hopeful faces of cancer patients in hospitals where she had spent 23 years mixing chemo as a pharmacist.

At the same time, though, she wondered whether those same drugs – experienced as a form of “secondhand chemo” -- may have caused her own cancer.

Chemo is poison by design. It’s descended from deadly mustard gas first used against soldiers in World War I. Now it’s deployed to stop the advance of cancer.

Crump knew she had her own war on her hands. She wanted to live long enough to see her 21-year-old daughter, Chelsea, graduate college.

And she wanted something else: She wanted young pharmacists and nurses to pay attention to her story.

Crump, who died of pancreatic cancer in September at age 55, was one of thousands of health care workers who were chronically exposed to chemotherapy agents on the job for years before there were even voluntary safety guidelines in place.