CSTD: The Safe Handling of Hazardous Drugs

Every day, millions of healthcare workers have the potential to be exposed to drugs that can be hazardous to their health. Nurses, pharmacists, doctors, laboratory personnel and operating room technicians face exposure to drugs used for chemotherapy, antiviral agents, and bioengineered drugs that have many harmful effects. That is why it is extremely important that safety protocols are followed and that these drugs are contained in order to be handled safely.

Risks of Drug Exposure
Although most of the drugs considered to be hazardous are used to give humans and animals lifesaving treatments, exposure to these drugs can have disastrous consequences. Exposure to hazardous drugs can cause both acute and chronic health conditions and lead to skin rashes. They can adversely affect the reproductive system and lead to spontaneous abortions or infertility. Some of these drugs can also cause cancers, like leukemia. The risks due to exposure depend on the toxicity of the drugs being transported or used. That is why the creation of the , or CSTD, has proven to be important in decreasing the risk of exposure to hazardous drugs.

The CSTD includes products used to transfer hazardous drugs from the pharmacy to the medical facilities where patients are treated with them, without the risk of drugs leaking or contaminating the atmosphere. These devices include closed syringes and adapters to help prevent the drugs from leaking as they are transferred to the patient, along with connectors and tubing sets nurses use to give drug treatments. They may also include systems engineered to contain vapor leaks, or blister packaging that safely contains dangerous drugs, greatly reducing the risk of exposure for healthcare and laboratory workers.

Both the Federal Drug Administration and the NIOSH, or National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, have strict regulations on the production of closed system transfer device products that are used to transfer hazardous drugs. They not only reduce the risk of exposure, but some systems act to contain vapors that accidentally escape while drugs are being used. For facilities working with hazardous drugs, these products help reduce the risk to their employees.

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