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Using Veterinary Medicines Safely

By: Kevin Watson MSc - Updated: 28 Nov 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Veterinary Medicines Safely Cabinet

Many veterinary medicines are drugs – and powerful ones at that. They can poison animals and humans or cause severe adverse reactions if used incorrectly. This is why it’s vital to store and use such medicines as safely as possible.

Storage and Records

The best place to store veterinary medicines is in a locked cabinet. There must be no access for unauthorised people or children.The medicine cabinet must be fireproof for at least 30 minutes. It must also be strong enough to resist accidental damage, and intrusion by vermin or birds.

If a medicine leaks, the cabinet should be able to contain the spillage safely within a limited area. Leaking medicine should not flush down an unprotected drain and cause harm to the environment. It’s also important to keep a record of the veterinary medicine contained in the cabinet, particularly if there’s a fire. Fire fighters will want to know if there are chemicals that may react to heat and create toxic fumes.

Control Measures

Anyone responsible for the use of veterinary medicines should introduce measures to control possible risks – and all those who use the medicines must be aware of these measures. To begin with, it’s wise to look at the type of medicines. The question to ask is whether it’s reasonable to replace the more hazardous ones with a safer product. Water-based vaccines, for instance, are safer than those with an oil base.

The next point to consider is the method of applying the medicines. Is it less hazardous, for example, to inject sheep rather than dip them? However, if dipping is more effective, is the sheep bath secure and properly situated, and are there splash screens to protect the operators?

One of the most important control measures, though, is training. All those who administer veterinary medicines must have suitable training. They should also follow the instructions on the medicine to the letter. This means there must always be suitable Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) on hand. The PPE may consist of eye protection, latex gloves or coveralls. The type of PPE has to match the nature of the medicine and the method of administering it.

This issue of PPE also extends to washing facilities. Someone who uses veterinary medicines must have access to water to wash away any spillages from skin and clothing.

But even if there are no apparent splashes, whoever uses a medicine must wash prior to drinking, eating or smoking. Veterinary medicines can transfer to hands and from there to a person’s system, causing a stomach upset or worse.

Adverse Reactions

If someone does fall ill and the cause may be veterinary medicine, the affected person or employer must report the matter. This applies even if the affected person and his or her doctor simply suspect that the medicine is the cause of the illness.

The organisation to contact is the Veterinary Medicine Directorate (VMD). This is an agency of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). If the adverse reaction occurs in an animal rather than a human, the VMD still need to know.

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