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The hazards cancer drugs pose to pregnant health care workers

Safety authorities expressed concern about the results of a study done by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Analyzed data shows that a significant percentage of pregnant health care workers fail to protect themselves and their unborn babies against the hazards posed by powerful cancer drugs. Over 40,000 nurses in North America, including California, participated in the research.

Reportedly, almost 40% of the pregnant nurses who participated do not wear protective gowns when they administer antineoplastic drugs used for chemotherapy. A significant number also admitted to working with these dangerous drugs without wearing protective gloves. Safety authorities recommend that all health care workers should wear prescribed protective gowns and gloves as personal protective equipment.

The chemotherapeutic drugs that nurses administer to patients with various cancer types can be in pill form or liquid. Researchers say many of these antineoplastic drugs could be human carcinogens, and in cancer patients, they are reproductive toxicants. They can damage not only the fertility of health care workers but also threaten the pregnancy. Chemotherapeutic drugs can cause congenital disabilities, birth defects and even a miscarriage.

Pregnant health care workers are advised to use all the available protective measures to avoid harm to their unborn babies or their own health. However, if they are adversely affected by exposure to dangerous drugs, they might be eligible for workers' compensation benefits. An attorney with experience in fighting for the rights of California health care workers can assist with the navigation of benefits claims that will likely cover medical expenses, lost wages and other associated damages.

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