The Science Journal of the American Association for Respiratory Care

2004 OPEN FORUM Abstracts

SURVEYING RESPIRATORY CARE MANAGERS ABOUT BELIEFS AND CONCERNS OF POTENTIAL RISK TO RCP FROM SECOND HAND EXPOSURE TO INHALED AGENTS



Lee M. Clinton, BS, RRT
Howard A. Rusk Rehabilitation Center Columbia, MO

Background: Respiratory care practitioners deliver many different aerosolized medications. During the course of a career, therapists are repeatedly exposed to these agents via second hand exhaust from the nebulizers; some of these drugs may be potentially dangerous. The purpose of this survey was to measure awareness and concerns of respiratory care department managers in regard to staff exposure, as well as get an understanding of practice patterns.

Methods: An 11-question anonymous survey was sent out via postal mail to respiratory care department managers of facilities consisting of 200 or more beds. A total of 115 surveys were mailed to hospitals in Missouri, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Arkansas, and Illinois. The survey requested answers to Yes/No questions as well as written responses.

Results: At the time of writing this preliminary report, 50 responses, 43.4% have been returned. The chart below summarizes these results.

Number of facilities who… Number of Positive (YES) Responses % of total
Nebulize antibiotics 37 74%
Filter Antibiotics 9 24%**
Administer methacholine 40 80%
Have had an employee health issue related to nebulizer exhaust 7 14%
Have a dept. manager concerned with potential side-effects of nebulizer exhaust 32 64%
Have discontinued a medication because of care-giver health reasons 5 10%

**Percent of facilities that nebulize antibiotics that, in turn, filter them.

Conclusions: According to these preliminary data, there is no consensus among respiratory care department managers about which substances should be filtered or even whether second-hand nebulizer exposure poses a potential threat. More in-depth long-term studies on therapist exposure to nebulized substances need to be conducted.