While nursing is widely considered among the most rewarding professions, nursing is also one of the most dangerous. Nurses are exposed to numerous risks, sometimes with life-changing or life-ending consequences.
There are over 18 million employees in the healthcare sector in the U.S., nearly 80 percent of which are women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These employees are exposed to many hazards every day. The CDC estimates that among employees in the healthcare sector, cases of non-fatal workplace injury and disease are greater than among employees in any other industry sector.
Some of the most common injuries and causes of injuries in the healthcare field include:
1. Overexertion or repetitive stress – Healthcare workers are more than seven times as likely to develop musculoskeletal disorders compared with other workers. Nurses have the highest risk of developing mental illnesses like anxiety, stress, and depression.
2. Needle sticks – Healthcare workers routinely use needles and sharp medical instruments that could cut or puncture the skin.
3. Sprains and strains – Sprains and strains are the most frequently reported injury among healthcare workers. Most strains and sprains affect the shoulders and the lower back.
4. Infections – These infections can occur as a result of airborne pathogens or exposure to mucus and bodily waste.
5. Slips and falls – When water or liquids are spilled on the floor of a nursing home or hospital, a healthcare worker can fall on the slick floor. Such accidents can result to broken bones, fractures, and head injuries.
6. Violence – Healthcare and social service workers are at high risk of being violently assaulted at work. Patients, their families or their friends all present a risk of violence. Workers in hospitals, especially, are in danger because violent criminals may be placed in hospitals on criminal holds. Hospitals and clinics are also both likely robbery targets because of the presence of drugs.
To keep nurses healthy and safe while at work, follow these 10 reminders and tips on how to minimize the chance of nursing job-related injury or illness:
1. Clean your hands all the time
2. Use the lift and transfer equipment
3. Watch out for hazards and practice good body mechanics
4. Speak up and step up when dealing with potentially violent patients
5. Get vaccinated for the flu
6. Immunise against other pathogens
7. Practice safe needle handling
8. Wear personal protective equipment when necessary
9. Eat healthy, exercise, and get plenty of sleep
10. Practice good fitness and self-care
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