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Safe Handling of Hazardous Medicines at Home

Children’s Minnesota cares about the safety and well-being of your child and those who treat and care for them. As a caregiver, you play an important role and are an extension of the care team for your child. To help ensure the safest environment possible for your child, Children’s Minnesota is committed to providing information to help you prepare and protect your child and other caregivers. This information will help you and your loved ones handle hazardous medicines at home. If you have questions about a specific medication or these safe handling guidelines, please contact your care team.  

What are hazardous medicines? 

Your child’s provider has determined your child needs a medicine that is considered hazardous. While this medication is intended to help your child, it can be harmful to other people, so requires special handling. Hazardous medicines are used to treat many medical conditions but can damage healthy cells and be harmful to people giving them. 

Your medication label will say if it is considered a hazardous medicine. The risk of harm from handling hazardous medicine is small, but it is a good idea to avoid exposure as much as possible. If you are pregnant, trying to get pregnant, or breastfeeding, speak to your nurse, doctor, or pharmacist about safe ways to care for your child.

How do I handle hazardous medicines at home?

You, your child, family members and pets may come in contact with a prescribed hazardous medicine at home. Always wear disposable (single use) gloves during hazardous medication handling. You may be exposed to hazardous medications during: 

  • Medication storage and disposal 
  • Preparing and giving medication  
  • Cleaning (spills and bathroom/toilet areas) 
  • Medication splashing

How do I store the medicine?

  • Your pharmacist or nurse will tell you if there are any special storage instructions. 
  • Keep all medicines out of reach of children or pets. 
  • Keep hazardous medicines separate from all other medicines. 
  • If the medicine needs to be refrigerated, separate it from other foods. Use a separate bin in the refrigerator or place the medicine in a container. 
  • Keep the hazardous medicine in its original bottle or container. Do not place it in a pill box with other non-hazardous medicines. 

How do I prepare to give the medicine?

Prepare the work area you will be giving the medicine in. Choose an uncluttered counter or table away from:

  • Windows, fans, and vents
  • Areas where food is prepared
  • Carpeted areas
  • Areas where children and pets play

Gather supplies, including:

  • Paper towels or a disposable, absorbent plastic-backed mat - to contain any spills
  • Heavy-duty garbage bag - for waste disposal
  • Syringe, medicine cup, tweezers, pill splitter or other items you need to prepare your child's medicine dose
  • Your child's medicine

Before preparing your child's medicine:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water.
  • Put on a new pair of disposable gloves. Do not use torn or punctured gloves.
  • Place paper towels or a disposable, absorbent plastic-backed mat over your work surface.

How do I give the medicine?

  • Before touching the medicine inside the container, check it for damage or if it’s a liquid medicine, make sure it is not leaking. Do not use the medicine if it looks damaged or leaking.  
  • Your provider, nurse, or pharmacist will explain how and when to give your child their medicine. Follow the directions given to you on how to safely give the medication.  
  • Make sure your child takes the medicine exactly as told. If you have any questions or a dose is missed, contact your provider, nurse, or pharmacist for further instructions.   

How do I clean up and throw away used medicine and supplies? 

  • Throw away any used gloves, gowns, medicine cups, oral syringes, or bottles in a two-ply, heavy-duty trash bag. Tie or seal the plastic bag and place it in your household trash bag for disposal. Be sure to keep this trash out of the reach of pets and children. 
  • Wash your hands with soap and water after handling hazardous medicines. 

What happens if the medicine spills or splashes?  

If the medicine enters the eye: 

  • Place head under water faucet or hose and rinse eye with water for at least 15 minutes. 
  • Contact your provider. 

If the medicine gets on clothing: 

  • Put on disposable gloves.
  • Remove the clothing. Do not touch the wet material with your bare hands. Wash the skin under the clothing with soap and water if it became wet. 
  • Place the clothing in a sealed plastic bag until you can wash it. 

Keep all children and pets away from the spill 

  • Always wear new disposable gloves. Do NOT touch the hazardous medicine with bare hands.  
  • Use soap, water, and disposable towels to clean the spill area.  
  • Dispose of spill clean-up materials in heavy duty garbage bag before throwing in regular trash. 

Remember these key tips for safe handling of hazardous medicines at home 

  1. If possible, avoid contact with hazardous medicines if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. 
  2. Properly store and dispose of PPE and hazardous medicine.
  3. Wear disposable gloves when handling hazardous medicine tablets, capsules or liquids.  
  4. You and your child should wash your hands with soap and water before and after handling hazardous medicines.  


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

Reviewed USP 800 Committee 4/2024

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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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