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Nurses Handling Hazardous Medications: Guidelines and Tools

Ensuring the safety of our patients, as well as ourselves, is a fundamental aspect of our roles as healthcare professionals. With this in mind, we bring to your attention essential guidelines and tools published by AHS (Alberta Health Services) for all clinical staff working with hazardous medication. Among these medications, Methotrexate and Testosterone are commonly administered by Primary Care Nurses. As these drugs are included in the hazardous medication list, Primary Care Nurses should be aware of recommended safety protocols for handling them, as well as other medications they may encounter.

Please take the time to familiarize yourself with the Hazardous Medication List available on the external AHS Insite page. By doing so, you can identify any medications you administer that may fall under this category. AHS has thoughtfully prepared a suite of tools and granted permission to share with Primary Care Nurses in the province who may not have access to the material on Insite.

  1. Hazardous Medication List: Complete list and classification guide

  2. Hazardous Medications Handling Risk Assessment Algorithm

  3. Hazardous Medication Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Guide: Includes detailed instruction on the PPE equipment (P.15) and recommended PPE for handling known hazards or reproductive hazards for clinical staff (P.25 and 44)

So what can you do in your practice?

Evaluate your risk: Understand what category the medication may fall in and what level of preparation you are providing.

Empower Client Self-Administration: As part of best practice, we encourage you to engage clients in self-administration of hazardous medications when feasible. Providing education and support can empower patients to take control of their treatment, reducing the need for healthcare providers to handle these medications directly.

Risk Mitigate: Consider encouraging prefilled syringes or referral to pharmacies with appropriate PPE. If this is not possible acquire recommended PPE based on your specific situation.

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