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Safe handling of hazardous drugs

Drugs are hazardous if studies in animals or humans show that exposure to them have a potential for causing cancer, reproductive toxicity, birth defects or acute harm to health.

Chemotherapy (chemo) is the use of certain medicines to treat cancer and other conditions. Chemotherapy is a commonly used hazardous drug at Children's. It does a good job killing cancer cells. Unfortunately, these drugs may also cause harm to health care workers who are exposed to them at low levels over long periods of time. Therefore, it is important for health care workers and family members to protect themselves when there is a potential for exposure.

Personal Protective Equipment

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) effectively reduces exposure to hazardous drugs. At Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, PPE consists of special gowns, gloves, and eye and face protection. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommends reducing exposure to hazardous drugs by wearing appropriate PPE when administering chemotherapy and when handling body fluids for 48 hours after chemotherapy treatment.

Safety measures while receiving chemotherapy

  1. When inpatient, your child's nurse will use the white board in the room to let other staff know your child is receiving chemotherapy.
  2. Nurses and CSA's will wear chemo gowns and gloves. They may wear face and eye protection if there is a chance of a splash.
  3. Gloves should be worn when giving chemotherapy medicines by mouth.
  4. Tell the staff if you notice any leaking or spills. Do not try to clean up a spill by yourself.

All body fluids may contain chemotherapy for 48 hours after treatment. This can be a hazard for caregivers. Therefore, the following safety measures will be taken:

  1. All staff will wear chemo gowns and gloves when handling body fluids during this time period. This includes blood, urine, vomit and stool.
  2. Wear gloves to protect yourself when changing diapers or handling body fluids.
  3. If your skin touches your child's body fluids, wash your skin with soap and water, and pat dry. If you have a splash into your eyes, flush with water for 15 minutes and then contact your personal doctor.
  4. While in the hospital or clinic, a disposable toilet seat cover will be placed over the toilet when flushing
    urine, stool or vomit to prevent splashing to the surrounding areas and into the air.


This is not specific to your child, but provides general information. If you have any questions, please call your clinic.

Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota
Last reviewed 8/2015 

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This page is not specific to your child, but provides general information on the topic above. If you have any questions, please call your clinic. For more reading material about this and other health topics, please call or visit Children's Minnesota Family Resource Center library, or visit

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