If your loved one has cancer, you both may be looking into your options. Chemotherapy is a common approach and can help to eradicate many cancers; however, you should only consider hospitals and pharmacies that use CSTD systems to transport and administer these drugs.
What is a CSTD?
CSTD stands for "closed system drug transfer device." These devices are used to safely transfer drugs from one container to another during medical compounding, where medicines are created with personalized dosages). These devices ensure that vapor concentrations from hazardous drugs are contained. These devices also eliminate any exposure to sharps/needlesticks, and they reduce surface contamination when a drug is administered.
What are the Specific Benefits?
Even though CSTDs improve safety measures, you'd be surprised to find that not every medical facility uses them. However, they provide two major benefits:
They Protect the Environment
As previously mentioned, CSTDs contain vapors from drugs. When a drug is being transported from a container to a syringe, they equalize the pressure so that vapors do not escape and contaminate the surrounding environment.
These vapors can eventually settle on surfaces, making a facility less sterile. And if these impurities settle on workers' hands, they can be washed into the water supply. If you do a quick Google search, you will find many articles that address how unsafe chemo chemicals are for wastewater systems since some cannot be completely treated and the water cannot be completely purified!
Healthcare workers will do their best to decontaminate treatment areas, but CSTDs certainly make it easier to keep the environment safe.
They Protect Healthcare Workers & Caregivers
While chemotherapy can be a godsend for many families, the chemicals that are used are dangerous because they are antineoplastic agents. An antineoplastic agent is a type of drug that not only travels through the body to inhibit and destroy cancer, but one that also destroys healthy cells.
Healthcare workers who do not use CSTDs put themselves at risk when administering chemo medications, since exposure to antineoplastic agents can destroy or mutate their own healthy cells!
While some reactions in caregivers are mild—like the development of skin rashes—others are devastating. Some healthcare workers have become infertile or even have developed cancers of their own. Pregnant healthcare workers that have been exposed to chemo medications have also had higher risks of stillbirths and birth defects.
As you can see, while the oncology staff can help your loved one, they can also be put at risk. There are studies, however, that show that CSTDs can help reduce these issues.
It's in your best interest to support a facility that uses CSTDs since it shows that you not only care for your loved one, but that you care about the staff that put themselves at risk to help others. The more people that use pharmacies and hospitals that have CSTDs, the more that these devices will gain traction in the medical world.