Saf Health Work.  2014 Dec;5(4):169-174. 10.1016/

Identification of Knowledge Gaps Regarding Healthcare Workers' Exposure to Antineoplastic Drugs: Review of Literature, North America versus Europe

  • 1School of Occupational and Public Health, Ryerson University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
  • 2School of Population and Public Health, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
  • 3Prevention Division, WorkSafeBC, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.


We have been examining the issue of healthcare workers' exposure to antineoplastic drugs for nearly a decade and have observed that there appears to be more publications on the subject matter originating from Europe than from North America. The concern is that findings from Europe may not be generalizable to North America because of differences in handling practices, regulatory requirements, and training. Our objective was to perform a literature review to confirm our observation and, in turn, identify gaps in knowledge that warrants addressing in North America. Using select keywords, we searched for publications in PubMed and Web of Science. All papers were initially classified according to the originating continent and then categorized into one or more subject categories (analytical methods, biological monitoring, occupational exposure, surface contamination, and probability of risk/exposure). Our review identified 16 papers originating from North America and 55 papers from Europe with surface contamination being the subject matter most often studied overall. Based on our results, we are of the opinion that North American researchers need to further conduct dermal and/or urinary drug contamination studies as well as assess the exposure risk faced by healthcare workers who handle antineoplastic drugs. Trends in exposure levels should also be explored.


antineoplastic drugs; healthcare workers; knowledge gaps; occupational exposure
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