Occupational exposure

Medical health workers have been delivering cytotoxic drug treatment to patients on a regular basis for much longer and on a more routine basis than have veterinary staff. In the medical environment there is evidence which shows that detectable amounts of the cytotoxic drugs can be found in the air where these drugs are prepared (Mason, Sottani, Ronchi, & Minoia, 2005). There have also been studies of health workers whose urine showed detectable amounts of these drugs (Turci et al., 2002). However, this was shown to have improved over a period of 10 years, when a similar study was performed (Sottani, Porro, Imbrinai, & Minola,2012). Adverse effects reported in our medical counterparts include:

   damage to DNA

   contact irritation

   reproductive dysfunction including abortion and foetal malformation, although other factors such as smoking may contribute to this and cannot be ruled out.

Currently, there is no evidence to link the development of cancer in veterinary professionals directly to occupational exposure to cytotoxic drugs, because all the studies so far have focused on medical health care workers, who perform these procedures far more than we do in a veterinary setting (Table 1).


Stuart Ford-Fennah BSc(Hons) RVN C-SQP AIOSH

Stuart graduated from the University of Bristol with a degree in Veterinary Nursing and Practice Administration.He is now the Clinical Manager at Cave Veterinary Specialists after five years as the Head Nurse. Stuart believes that, while today’s RVN must be adept at using the high-tech equipment available in modern-day veterinary nursing, they should not lose sight of the need to deliver holistic nursing care and believes this is essential in achieving the treatment goals.

Email: sford-fennah@cave-vet-specialists.co.uk

Keywords: Clinical, Cytotoxic safety

To cite this article: Veterinary Nursing Journal • VOL 31 (04) • April 2016 pp107-110

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