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Are Your Techs too Busy to Avoid Drug Cross Contamination?

Published on: 11.08.2013

Drug cross contamination is a huge concern for pharmacists, drug manufacturers and clinics that disperse medications. Medical experts know quite well that drugs that come in contact with other drugs can cause many health complications for patients; ranging from mild allergic reactions to more serious seizures and other reactions. However, during the course of a busy day, technicians might pour pills and raw materials onto common surfaces; or observe inconsistent cleaning practices. They do this because when they're in a pinch without a quick reference, they do what they think is best or what they learned in school. This protocol is often different for every tech.

In Addition to Reactions, Good Grief...

According to recent news, doctors are discovering that popular RLS and Parkinson's disease drugs, Mirapex (pramipexole) and Requip (repinirole), cause patients to engage in compulsive behavior like hypersexuality, gambling, compulsive shopping and buying things without remembering the purchase.

I Know You're Busy, but...

It is important for technicians to conscientiously avoid drug cross contamination, because many drugs are extremely powerful, (even in very small quantities). If the wrong patient receives exposure to the wrong substance, the repercussions could be physical, short-term or long-term, emotional or even financial.

It is important for technicians to clean all lab surfaces carefully and often, and for the lab to have a clear protocol for cleaning and sterilization. Common areas of cross contamination include:

•    Pill counting surfaces and scale surfaces
•    Pour through pill counting chutes
•    Counter surfaces and
•    The air, (airborne contamination from pill dust and poorly configured HVAC and circulation systems)


A Risk Management Plan

Every facility that processes medications must have a clear risk management plan. When outlining your plan, you must identify and correct cross contamination risks and poor practices. Sometimes you will even have to call in experts to test your air circulation and buy new equipment.

In addition to establishing a unified measure for what is clean and sterile, cut risk completely where you can:

•    Use pill counters and other equipment that never has to come in contact with medication and
•    Have an expert test the air handling, dust dissemination and airflow pattern in your facility

Though these steps are redundant for some, not everyone in your lab will be on the same page unless you put them there; and some labs might have to educate techs, buy new equipment or do some remodeling to better serve patients.

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