The nursing profession is filled with hazards, but the men and women who do these jobs are willing to take these risks to ensure that their patients are getting the care they need. It is imperative that all nurses be empowered to take the steps necessary to remain safe while they are working.
While there are many different situations that can occur on a daily basis for these professionals, there are many that can be planned for in advance. Consider these common hazards that nurses face and review some of the ways that the risks might be minimized.
Overexertion and cumulative trauma
One of the most common ways that nurses, especially those in long-term care facilities and hospitals, can suffer injuries is during patient transfers to and from beds, chairs, and other areas. Sometimes, patients might need more help than what one nurse should provide alone. Having others stop in to help or using transfer equipment can reduce the stress on the nurse’s body, especially his or her back.
Other overexertion and cumulative trauma risks that might occur include having to bend over the patient in the bed to take vitals and provide other care. Remaining on their feet for a full shift might also lead to issues with the knees. In some instances, stretching before, during and after the shift might be beneficial.
Contamination and illness
Another big hazard that nurses face is the exposure to germs and diseases. This can come from close contact during diagnosis and treatment. It can also be from pokes with sharps. Using proper protocol in these circumstances can help to prevent the chance of these happening.
Gloves, face shields, masks and gowns are possibles lines of defense. Additionally, nurses should wash their hands thoroughly and frequently when they are in contact with patients. At a minimum, wash them before and after each patient contact. Being immunized can also help to keep nurses safe.
Slips and falls
The nature of a hospital makes slippery floors and trip hazards common. Bodily fluids and other liquids on the floor can make the surface slippery. Nurses can combat these conditions by wearing slip-resistant shoes. They can also try to avoid areas that aren’t clean and dry, but this might not be possible in trauma bays and in emergency situations. Cords and lines on the floor can lead to trip hazards. While these are necessary in some cases, trying to minimize the occurrence of them can help.
Ultimately, nurses need to keep themselves safe and healthy so they can help patients. They must not try to power through a shift after an injury or exposure without getting medical care because they might exacerbate the issue and end up in worse shape.