Context: Chemotherapeutic drugs are chemical substances used for cancer treatment and known to be carcinogenic, teratogenic, and mutagenic to humans. Occupational exposure to chemotherapeutic drugs has led to higher health hazards among nurses who handle them.
Aim: Assess chemotherapy health hazards among oncology nurses and its possible relation to malpractice and workplace environment.
Method: A descriptive and exploratory research design used in the present study. All available nurses from both sexes working in the chemotherapy department comprised of 50 nurses, of one-year experience at least. The study conducted at Oncology Center in Minia City, Egypt, in the outpatient and inpatient chemotherapy department. Three tools used to collect the study data. An interview structured questionnaire for nurses, designed to assess socio-demographic characteristics and medical history of the studied nurses. The second tool is nursing practice observation checklists to assess safe practice in chemotherapy handling. The third tool was environmental safety checklists to assess workplace environmental safety.
Results: The main results of this study clarified that about half of the study sample (48%) complained of health hazards presented as skin irritation/allergy, chest allergy, and inflammation of eyes (45.8%, 16.7%, 37.5% respectively). Maternal hazards presented mainly as irregular menstrual bleeding (50%), menorrhagia, and abortion (33.3%). Decrease environmental safety presented mainly as absence of biological safety cabinet, specific personal protective equipment (PPE), safe handling chemotherapy guidelines. Along with certain nurses' malpractice as the majority of the study sample (74%) has poor practice score in the handling of chemotherapy.
Conclusion: This study indicated the presence of general and maternal health hazards among nurses handling chemotherapy in the form of general and maternal health hazards. The study also clarified nurses’ malpractice among about three-fourths of nurses and provide evidence of an unsafe environment. The results strengthened the increased need for improving nurses' knowledge and practice regarding chemotherapy handling along with the provision of needed equipment/supplies to underpin safe and effective practice in this area.
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