TRENTON, N.J. – Legislation Assemblywoman Nancy F. Muñoz sponsored to protect healthcare personnel who handle hazardous chemotherapy drugs was signed today by Gov. Christie.
“Cancer treatment often consists of a combination of chemo drugs, which are very potent. These powerful drugs may expose workers to a number of serious short-term and chronic effects,” said Muñoz (R-Union). “Providing potentially lifesaving medicine and comfort to cancer patients is very rewarding, but can be emotionally stressful. Health care professionals don’t need the added burden of worrying about adverse effects from the drugs they are administering. They deserve a safe work environment.”
The bill (A837/S468), the “Hazardous Drug Safe Handling Act,” requires the state Commissioner of Health, the Director of Consumer Affairs and a stakeholder group, including a NJ State Society of Physician Assistants representative to establish rules and regulations for the safe handling of chemotherapy drugs by health care personnel in a health care setting, including pharmacies, or an animal or veterinary facility. This includes physicians, physician’s assistants, nurses and pharmacists. The regulations will follow the most recent recommendations of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and the CDC.
The regulations will provide guidelines on necessary precautions and controls to eliminate or minimize exposure; use of protective equipment; safe handling practices, including handling, receiving, storage, preparing, administering, waste handling, cleaning, housekeeping, labeling and signage, and spill control and response procedures. Employers will also be required to provide hazardous drugs training to all employees who have or are likely to have occupational exposure to hazardous drugs.
Hazardous drugs, including antineoplastic drugs used in chemotherapy, have been associated with a number of adverse acute and chronic effects, including skin rashes, infertility, miscarriage, birth defects, various cancers, and damage to the liver, kidneys, bone marrow, heart and lungs.