So the phrase “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” might not be one you’ll find in your Unitek College textbooks, but there’s still something to be said for the old adage. As nurses, you will be working at full speed, sometimes on little rest, and most of that time, you’ll be on your feet. Those factors add up to make nursing the third most injury plagued occupation in the country. But if you know what to watch out for, and if you take the right precautions, you may be able to avoid those painful workplace accident.
Musculoskeletal injuries are one of the most common for nurses. In fact, nurses have a 48% higher chance of having sprained wrists, backs, or ankles on the job, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Many of these injuries come while handling or moving patients (transferring someone from a wheel chair to a bed, for example). While there is no fool-proof way of handling patients, you still can turn the odds in your favor by remembering to follow Safe Patient Handling and Mobility (SPHM) guidelines at your hospital or clinic. You can also help avoid injury by staying in good physical shape, getting plenty of rest, investing in shoes with good arch support (and no-slip treads), and by remembering to always lift with your legs!
Another common injury comes from handling used needles and syringes-not only is a prick painful, but dangerous infections or diseases can be transferred. Even though a law was passed to help make handling needles safer (the Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act), true safety comes from nurses being aware of the possibility of injury, the potential dangers of those injuries, and the conscious decision to move carefully while handling used equipment.
Third, medicines exist to make people better, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be dangerous. The CDC keeps a sample list of the many potentially hazardous medicines and chemicals you may interact with in a healthcare setting. Know everything you can about the drugs you’ll be handling, pay close attention to the safe handling procedures, and you should be able to avoid any unpleasant accidents.
Finally, emotions run high for patients at medical facilities, you get all sorts of people walking through those doors, and not all of them will fully understand that you’re there to help. Assault or abuse from patients is always a risk, and nurses tend to be easy targets. While 100% accuracy in predicting patient behavior is impossible, you should still trust your instincts, and always be willing to ask for help if you feel that a situation isn’t safe. And if abuse of any kind does occur, report it right away. Not only will you be protecting yourself, but you’ll be helping protect the next nurse (or nurses) who may have to interact with this person.
All in all, the most important thing for you to do to help avoid on-the-job injuries is to take a breath and remember your training. Chances are, whether at Unitek College or during your clinical training, you were given instructions on how to proceed safely with your job responsibilities. Things may get hectic at times, but if you keep that training and those instructions fresh in your mind, chances are you’ll be just fine.
Be safe out there!
If you’d like more information on Unitek College nurse training programs, contact us here.