Healthcare is an invaluable part of society. The institutions that are tasked with training healthcare professionals and providing healthcare service have not delivered their responsibility to society lightly. There are quite a number of challenges that healthcare professionals face in observing their duty. The very nature of the environment in which healthcare professionals work exhibits a lot of risks. The toxins, dangerous tools, and even tasks that clinicians are exposed to make the entire practice inherently risky ("Nursing Profession is Rife with Occupational Hazards", 2016). Hospital management is tasked with the assessment and address of any risk factors within hospital grounds. This task is, however, collaborative as all stakeholders come together in solving any one problem. The hazards that continue to plague the efficiency of healthcare professionals can be managed. It is, therefore, important to understand the causes of these risks and come up with ways that hospitals can use to mitigate the hazards they face as they face them ("Nursing Profession is Rife with Occupational Hazards", 2016).
The nurse is one of the most important employees of any hospital. In the capacity of nurse, the responsibilities that these professionals are tasked with are inseparable from the healthcare. As an industry, the nurses are arguably the single most dependent professions in any hospitals. The reason for this is that care giving is a primary priority for nurses (Pope, Snyder, & Mood, 2016). Nurses interact with every other department in the hospitals and have insight into the progress of a lot more patients than the average doctor. In addition to this, while doctors, pharmacists and lab technicians play important roles in the treatment cycle of any one patient, the nurses are responsible for following up on doctor recommendations, patient progress and coordinating the patient throughout the patient life cycle (Pope, Snyder, & Mood, 2016). The risks that nurses face in performing their duties have a lasting impact on the efficiency of the entire hospitals.
It is important to note that as a profession, nursing is one of the most physically demanding jobs. Nurses are required to give patient medicine, take note of their weight, clean up after them and ensure that the road to recovery is not too difficult to bear. One of the prime risks that come with such a task is the exposure to toxins and harmful bacteria. The exposure to these substances increases the risk of contracting infectious diseases. It must be noted that while the doctors and other clinicians are confined to laboratory rooms, exam rooms, and theaters, nurses offer an invaluable in nursing homes, prisons, outpatient facilities and community health clinics among other places. The range of possible harmful situations for nurses, therefore, vary a great deal.
In the United States, one of the most prevalent infections that nurses contract is Hepatitis B. The disease is transmitted through bodily fluids. Nurses in nursing homes, pediatric areas, obstetrics, emergency rooms and even ambulatory care facilities are at great risk of contracting Hepatitis B (Alavi, 2016). Other diseases that nurses can contract include, Human ImmunoDeficiency Virus, and Tuberculosis. There is a mechanism that is in place that is meant to mitigate the risk associated with occupational exposure to diseases. These precautions are recommended by the CDC and the OSHA Bloodborne Pathogen Standards. Research is ongoing on more stringent methods of dealing with the situation (Alavi, 2016).
Other than infectious diseases, nurses are also exposed to toxins. The hospital is filled with chemicals and drugs whose exposure may be dangerous if not fatal. Some of these chemicals include Ethylene oxide, anesthetic gasses, and even Glutaraldehyde. These chemicals are harmful but abundant within the hospital setting. Nurses are therefore recommended to follow all professional standards in handling hospital equipment and observe the OSHA guidelines as well (Alavi, 2016).
Another common risk that nurses face is the breaking their backs. This is one of the most prevalent hazards that nurses face. It is estimated that 40000 nurses break their backs or suffer from back pains annually. The recourse for this includes an interdependent effort from the nurses and hospital management. There are several steps that the hospital management can take to reduce the risks that are associated with carrying heavy items. In addition to this, the physical health of nurses must be checked. The hospital management should also be able to take steps and put in protocols for how certain strenuous tasks can be handled with minimal risk of injury.
Nurses have a wide variety of institutions in which they can work. For this reason, there are a wide variety of risks that they face in the line of duty. In summary, some of the issues that nurses have to think about at work (Alavi, 2016). For instance, nurses in mental hospitals are at risk of getting into violent bursts of anger with their patient while nurses tending to cancer patients have a high risk of getting radiation poisoning. The stresses that come with tending to chronically ill patients often increase the stress levels of nurses. It is, therefore, important that hospital management acknowledges the challenges nurses face and the implications of having no nurses in a hospital or care institution (Alavi, 2016).
Hospitals have a responsibility to their staff to ensure that the environment in which they work is safe and can support the tasks that they are required to do. If care facilities and hospitals realize frequent and very rampant nurse related injury or sickness, the entire hospital will realize immediate and extreme lag in the processing of patients with other important tasks that nurses oversee. The legal implications of treating patients without the professional knowledge that nurses have will realize legal battles for the hospital and its management. In addition to this, the economic and financial viability of running hospitals cannot be feasible without the services that nurses provide. Significant drops in the efficiency, cleanliness, and even productivity of the hospital will increase. It is therefore in the best interest of the hospital that the nurses are given relevant in-hospitals best interest to reduce the risks that nurses have to deal with (Pope, Snyder, & Mood, 2016).
The hospital management must assert their intention to take care of the nurses within their hospital. From the onset, industry standards on safety. The ratio of patient to nurse should also be regulated. Nurses realize more injury when they are overworked (Stokowski, 2014). The pressures of work often affect the quality of work that any one employee puts and diminishes their morale. It is, therefore, important that the hospital sets up in-hospital training sessions on safety, ensures that the tools and machines that they use are of the highest safety. In addition to this, regular safety evaluations will go a long way in reducing the risks that nurses face every day (Stokowski, 2014).
Alavi, N. (2016). Occupational Hazards in Nursing. PubMed Central (PMC). Retrieved 1 December 2016, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4332998/
Nursing Profession is Rife with Occupational Hazards. (2016). RWJF. Retrieved 1 December 2016, from http://www.rwjf.org/en/library/articles-and-news/2012/03/nursing-profession-is-rife-with-occupational-hazards.html
Pope, A., Snyder, M., & Mood, L. (2016). Environmental Hazards for the Nurse as a Worker.Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Retrieved 1 December 2016, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK232400/
Stokowski, L. (2014). The Risky Business of Nursing. Medscape. Retrieved 1 December 2016, from http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/818437
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