One of the UK’s leading animal hospitals has invested in state-of-the-art safety equipment to protect staff from the dangers of handling harmful cancer drugs.
Paragon Veterinary Referrals in Wakefield, Yorkshire, has purchased a £12,000 cytotoxic safety cabinet to ensure its oncology team is shielded from exposure to toxic drugs while delivering cancer care to pet patients.
The new Envair CytoFAST Elite cabinet is already in operation, making the Linnaeus referral centre’s cancer unit one of the safest in the country.
The operation of the equipment is being overseen by Dr Rodney Ayl, a specialist in both medical and radiation oncology, who joined Paragon last year after 26 years practicing in the USA.
He said: “The need for protection of personnel during preparation of cytotoxic drugs presents the most significant obstacle to the safe provision of chemotherapy, as most practices are not equipped with an appropriate biosafety cabinet.
“This is especially true when there is a high case-load of chemotherapy patients, like at a specialist-led oncology practice.
“However, our new chemo cabinet means the chemotherapy safety standards employed at Paragon now adhere to an ‘abundance of caution’ approach, for both our patients and our staff.”
Dr Ayl says the dangers of repeatedly handling and administering cancer drugs can be severe.
He added: “The likelihood of drug exposure must be taken into account when considering the safety of personnel who handle cytotoxic drugs.
“The cumulative toxicity to personnel that arises from repeated contact with these drugs can cause health problems in the nursing staff that are beyond those expected in the patient.
“The main routes of personnel exposure to cytotoxic drugs are by aerosolisation or by absorption through skin.
“Both types of exposure can occur when preparing drugs for administration. The act of withdrawing cytotoxic drug from the vial into a syringe is generally the step that presents personnel with the greatest potential for exposure to a high concentration of drug.
“Ideally, personnel are optimally protected from drug exposure, and patients are protected from contamination of the product, by the use of a laminar flow biosafety cabinet (BCS) during drug preparation, regardless of whether a closed delivery system is used.
“The Envair CytoFAST BSC has been designed to guarantee the product, personnel and environmental protection.
“It belongs to the latest generation of laminar airflow systems and is built to the highest quality to guarantee the strictest safety standards – and the safety of our people is paramount at Paragon.”
Paragon’s multi-disciplinary care includes anaesthesia and analgesia, cardiology, dermatology, diagnostic imaging, internal medicine, neurology, oncology, ophthalmology, orthopaedics and soft tissue surgery.