Approximately 10 years have passed since the authors implemented the survey regarding occupational exposure to anticancer drugs of nurses, and they felt that preventive measures for anticancer drug exposure in the medical workplace have continued to be adopted. Accordingly, they obtained responses from 500 individuals in a survey 14) targeting 822 nurses at 411 hospitals with 200 or more beds nation-wide in 2012. Of these nurses, 98.8% were aware of the occupational exposure to anticancer drugs. Moreover, 52% answered that guidelines were established and used and 57% answered that pharmacists were mixing and preparing anticancer drugs in the pharmacy department. In approximately 10 years, the dramatic change in the handling of anticancer drugs in the medical workplace in Japan and the state of awareness of the risks can clearly be felt. In this context, based on the inclusion of “Occupational Exposure to Anticancer Drugs” in the educational curriculum for cancer chemotherapy certified nurses and on the fact that surveys regarding occupational exposure to anticancer drugs have been performed 15) 16) 17) 18), it can be surmised that nurses are taking a growing interest in this topic. Moreover, in an evaluation of hospital functions, the fact that an evaluation item, such as “the pharmacist mixes and prepares the anticancer drugs in the appropriate environment,” has been raised and that anticancer drug preparation for inpatients by the pharmacists are now applied as payments for medical services appear to be factors in the change in the medical workplace.
In recent years, cases in which cancer patients who remain at home receive chemotherapy as outpatients have increased. Protecting family members and visiting nurses that come in contact with these types of patients from exposure is also important. In 2008, a survey targeting nurses in the outpatient chemotherapy department of hospitals obtained responses from 514 individuals 19). Of these nurses, 97% were aware of exposure due to anticancer drugs, but half of the hospitals were instructing the patients and their families about the necessity of protection against exposure to the family. As reasons for not instructing them, information such as “considering the feelings of the patients and their families and being confused about how to explain it” was often cited; therefore, investigation is necessary regarding ways to explain the situation.
An official notice called “Regarding preventive measures against exposure to anticancer agents, etc. containing chemical substances that are carcinogenic, etc.” dated May 29, 2014 from the Section Chief of the Chemical Hazards Control Division, Industrial Safety and Health Department, Labour Standards Bureau, Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare addressed to heads of nine organizations (Japan Medical Association, Japan Pharmaceutical Association, Japanese Society of Hospital Pharmacists, Japanese Nursing Association, Japan Hospital Association, All Japan Hospital Association, AJHC, Japan Social Medical Corporation Associations, and Japan Psychiatric Hospitals Association) 20).