April 2009 Is National Safe Handling Awareness Month

April 1, 2009
In an act to further education surrounding the safe handling of hazardous drug exposure in the health care setting, April 2009 has been declared the first-ever National Safe Handling Awareness Month, with April 20 becoming the first National Safe Handling Awareness Day.

The proclamation of National Safe Handling Awareness Month follows the need for increased safe handling cognizance given the known risks associated with exposure to hazardous drugs (such as chemotherapy agents). According to an alert published by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), "working with or near hazardous drugs in health care settings may cause skin rashes, infertility, miscarriage, birth defects and possibly leukemia or other cancers."

The Importance of Safe Handling

The World Health Organization http://www.who.int/en/ predicts a 50 percent increase of cancer cases over the next 20 years; this, combined with more potent chemotherapy drugs – as well as an increase in the use of hazardous drugs to treat non-malignant illnesses – will continue to elevate risk of exposure.

A national survey conducted by the Environmental Working Group, the American Nurses Association, Health Care Without Harm and the Environmental Health Education Center at the University of Maryland School of Nursing, showed that there are links between nurses' occupational exposure to hazardous drugs and the health problems they develop such as cancer, asthma, miscarriages and children's birth defects.

In recognition of National Safe Handling Awareness Month, a variety of regional and national continuing education activities for health care professionals will be scheduled throughout April. The headline event, a nationwide webcast addressing the proper handling of hazardous drugs, will take place on April 20th. The event will be followed by a live Ask the Experts session featuring industry leaders.

This initiative is supported by an unrestricted educational grant provided by Carmel Pharma Inc. Visit http://www.statce.com/safehandling for more information or to register for the program.

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