6 Health & Safety Strategies for Healthcare Workers

6 Health & Safety Strategies for Healthcare Workers

While nursing is a highly rewarding career where an individual dedicates themselves to providing care and support to strangers, it can also be challenging, especially regarding safety. In an environment where you are dealing with strangers and not aware of their responses, nurses must always be hyper-vigilant. There are many strategies a nurse can explore to enhance their safety while at work but below we will explore the top priority six.

Handover Reports

Patients in a hospital are likely to be there longer than a nurse’s current shift, therefore the handoff report has been developed. This is a transfer and acceptance of patient care responsibility document that each on-duty nurse is required to complete and walk through with the nurse taking over that patient’s care. This document not only allows for the continuity of care for the patient but also allows the nursing staff the opportunity to notify of any important safety information. This could include if the patient is volatile, has aggressive family members, and potential trigger words for that patient. This allows the nursing staff to proactively support the patient and ensure the safety of all parties.

Physical Safety

As previously mentioned the handover documentation is widely important, especially concerning volatile and aggressive patients. While it is understandable that a patient and their family are likely experiencing a period of high-stress, it is never okay for a nurse to be placed into a situation where they feel they are in physical danger. Even with the handover document, it is not possible to know every trigger for a person or how they will react if triggered. It is therefore important as a nurse to never let anything or anyone be between you and the door. You must ensure you always have an exit available and if you are starting to feel uncomfortable, it is best to leave the room. Remember never to turn your back, back out of the room facing the patient and or family member. As needed, seek assistance from other staff, or, in extreme situations, security officials.

Drug Administration

Patients requiring drug administration are likely highly unwell and may require special handling. This is a challenge in nursing, as there are many different drug-types and ways to administer them. Unintentional exposure to certain drugs can be detrimental to a nurse’s health along with the patients. Nurses should ensure that no matter what drug they are administering they are wearing gloves, and if there is any uncertainty about a new medication, they seek guidance from their superior or the onsite pharmacist as to the safety protocols around the administration of the drug. Do not, under any circumstances, assume it is like something you have administered before and the same procedures apply; always check.

Maintaining Personal Health

It is the responsibility of the workplace to always ensure staff safety, but this requirement is also on the individual. Many nurses are finding themselves being overworked with longer shift times and therefore don’t have time to complete basic personal health activities such as stopping for lunch or a glass of water. The simple fact of the matter is that no workplace wants their staff to become unwell as absenteeism can affect productivity, disrupt patient care, and be costly to the business. Therefore, it is critical to ensure you are taking your breaks, utilizing available PTO, and maintaining a healthy routine outside of work.

Repetitive Strain Injuries

Nursing is a difficult profession that requires a lot of physical effort on behalf of the individual, primarily because of long shifts and repetitive lifting and adjustment of patients. This, in turn, can cause a huge strain on a nurse’s body. Although this can be challenging for nurses as these are required duties, there are actions a nurse can take to reduce the risk. These include taking breaks from the straining activity whenever possible and practicing healthy behaviors outside of work such as regular exercise, following a healthy diet, and avoiding unhealthy activities such as smoking, as this reduces blood flow and can increase RSI injuries.

Prevent Burnout

Finally, prevention of burnout is easier said than done with factors such as long shifts, short staffing, and nurse-patient ratio all playing parts in exhausting a nurse. Nurses experiencing burnout are less attentive and have an increased likelihood of making errors, which, in this field, can be very dangerous for both patients and the nurse involved. The best thing a nurse can do to prevent burnout is to engage in good self-care practices. This could be as simple as taking twenty minutes a day to read a chapter of your book, or saying no to an extra shift so you can have a much-deserved rest day.

Whilst nursing can be a very challenging career due to many factors, it doesn’t make it any less of a worthwhile pathway to take. Enlisting some of the measures mentioned above can assist with ensuring you are your best at work, and in turn, you get to do what you do best; care for people.