Pond Lehocky is celebrating hard-working nurses as Jan. 21-25 kicks off with Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists’ Week. Nursing is the number one occupation for nonfatal workplace injuries with more than 35,000 per year. Nurses’ jobs are physically demanding, and they are required to lift and move patients and spend many hours on their feet. In addition, they are constantly exposed to illness and pathogens and often handle needles and other sharp instruments. Moreover, nurses have to frequently deal with patient violence and work-related stress posed by the high stakes of the job. Thus, nurses face substantial risks and the numbers back this up.
According to a survey by the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA), CRNAs safely administer more than 45 million anesthetics to patients each year in the United States. Yet, the health and safety of CRNAs, and nurses in general, is often overlooked.
Here are 10 tips nurses can follow to stay safe on the job:
- CLEAN YOUR HANDS – Washing your hands prevents the spread of disease and can keep you from getting sick.
- USE LIFT AND TRANSFER EQUIPMENT – There is no safe way to lift a patient. Use patient lift and sling machines when they are available to help transfer patients. Also, utilize blankets and transfer boards to move and reposition patients. Always have another colleague help you.
- PRACTICE GOOD BODY MECHANICS: ERGONOMICS – Practice ergonomics and good body mechanics. Nurses should bend their knees, not their backs or waists, to lift. In addition, wear comfortable, supportive shoes. Prolonged standing and walking on hard floors puts stress on the back.
- SPEAK UP AND STEP UP – When you are dealing with a violent patient, always ask a colleague for help. Be prepared if a patient is uncooperative and always make sure the patient is aware of the procedure to avoid surprise.
- Keep current on vaccinations and immunizations – Healthcare professionals are at greater risk of getting the flu or other diseases. Illnesses like influenza can spread by a simple sneeze or cough. By staying current on vaccinations, you protect yourself, your patients, colleagues and family.
- BE ALERT FOR SLIP, TRIP AND FALL HAZARDS – Watch for water or other liquid that has spilled on to the floor. In addition, watch for other hazards and keep the environment free of clutter. If there’s something on the floor, pick it up to avoid future accidents.
- PRACTICE SAFE NEEDLE HANDLING – Hospital personnel experienced 385,000 needlestick and sharp-related injuries in 2016, according to OSHA, which is a particular concern to CRNAs. Exposure can spread blood-borne disease such as HIV/AIDS or Hepatitis B or C. Always dispose of needles in their appropriate container. Avoid overfilling sharps containers and promptly dispose of them. Avoid recapping a dirty (used) needle. However, if recapping is necessary, the scooping method is advised.
- WEAR PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT (PPE) WHEN APPROPRIATE – Select the appropriate gloves, gowns, masks and eye protection to prevent exposure to fluids and airborne particles. Take no shortcuts when it comes to protection against bloodborne pathogens.
- GET PLENTY OF SLEEP – Fatigue negatively influences nurses’ performance. It poses risks both to your patients and yourself.
- PRACTICE GOOD SELF-CARE – Daily exercise, good nutrition and psychosocial support are key. Nurses who maintain muscle strength, flexibility and healthy weight are less likely to get hurt. Finally, when you are sick, stay home and rest.
Hopefully, these tips will help nurses and other healthcare professionals stay safe and healthy. However, if you do get injured on the job, let our attorneys fight for your right to workers’ compensation, Social Security disability, long-term disability or employment law benefits. Our law firm has helped more than 2,500 healthcare professionals nationwide.
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