Learning About Medicine Safety for Health Care Workers

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What is it?

You may see your nurse, doctor, or other health care worker wearing a mask or gloves when giving you your medicine. This is called personal protective equipment (PPE). It protects workers from harmful substances. PPE also includes face shields, respirators, goggles, and gowns.

Why is my health care worker wearing protective equipment?

PPE is used for worker safety. Some medicines can harm people who work with them a lot. These include some cancer medicines, blood thinners, and others. The drugs may be pills, shots, or in other forms. Some give off fumes. Others may cause harm if they touch the skin.

You aren't at any added risk. You are getting the amount of medicine that your doctor wants. But your health care worker handles many kinds of medicine—all day, every day—for many patients. If your treatment changes, the type of PPE that's worn may change too.

Your health care worker might not have used PPE with you before. They are wearing it now because your medicine may have been added to a list of drugs that need PPE.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.