Like in any other workplace, injury also occurs in healthcare facilities, such as clinics, hospitals, and residential treatment centers. Nurses, doctors, nursing aides, and other healthcare workers may be at risk of getting into accidents or being exposed to diseases. The healthcare sector is also vulnerable to occupational hazards, especially during this time of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nurses get injured at thrice the rate of construction workers, based on a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report. Indeed, there are common injuries even in the healthcare industry, but they could be avoided easily if the issues would be identified and prevented.
Here are some ways to prevent workplace injury in the healthcare sector:
1. Increase Awareness Of Common Workplace Injuries
It’s crucial to increase people’s awareness regarding common healthcare workplace injuries so that these can be prevented. Both entry and existing healthcare workers should undergo safety training as an onboarding or refresher course.
The most common workplace injuries in the healthcare industry every year include the following:
- Back injuries: This injury occurs because of moving heavy patients and picking up heavy items.
- Head injuries: Healthcare workers also slip and fall in the workplace, which may cause head injuries, making them eligible for workers’ compensation claims.
- Needle injuries: Healthcare workers are at risk of needle injuries, such as needle punctures and cuts, on an everyday basis. Needle injuries may cause hepatitis, AIDS/HIV, or other blood-borne diseases.
- Overexertion: Manual, repetitive stress may lead to serious musculoskeletal disorders.
- Abuse and violence: Residential treatment facilities and hospitals usually house mental patients and drug addicts with violent outbursts, causing serious injury to nurses and caregivers. Also, healthcare facilities may be prone to robberies due to the drugs available in the facility.
2. Use Modern High-Quality Medical Equipment And Supplies
With advanced technologies and innovation, the healthcare industry has been shifting from manual to automated processes. For instance, the intravenous administration of drugs now uses automated IV infusions for accurate IV fluid going into the patient’s system, replacing the manual IV roller drip mechanism.
Also, medical supplies are now higher in quality more than ever. Medical products such as ready-to-administer OR anesthesia from innovative pharmaceutical companies like Fagron Sterile Services may help avoid accidental needle puncture, ensuring health worker safety and good-quality patient care delivery.
Check out the other modern, high-quality medical equipment, supplies, and procedures that can help avoid workplace injury in the healthcare sector:
- Medical computer carts: Modern medical computer mobile carts help avoid workplace injuries by minimizing to go back and forth to the central nurse station to get the supplies or equipment needed. These carts can carry medical equipment such as ECG machines and online patient data via a tablet or computer. Medical computer carts transform the resident and patient experience in residential care homes and hospitals. Medical carts improve the accessibility of patient information, reduce errors, and increase the efficiency of healthcare processes.
- Telehealth: Telemedicine is a great way to avoid face-to-face contact with patients, especially during a pandemic. This remote healthcare delivery method involves online video conferencing, in which the doctor assesses patients virtually by interviewing them to know their medical history and discover the signs and symptoms they might be experiencing.
- High-quality personal protective equipment (PPE): Hospitals, clinics, and long-term medical facilities should invest in high-quality personal protective equipment (PPE) to ensure maximum safety from germs, viruses, as well as blood and other body fluids from patients.
3. Set Safety Guidelines
The improper handling of hospital waste or hazardous materials may lead to accidental punctures, cuts, and acquiring of disease. For this reason, hospital administration should set safety guidelines in place, particularly in the following areas:
- Handling of hospital waste: Most kinds of hospital waste are categorized as hazardous waste because they harbor millions of bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms from sick patients and/or cadavers. Used gauze, absorbent pads, needles, IV bottles, blood, other body fluids, and body parts are examples of hospital waste.
- Handling of needles and blades: These are hazardous materials used in injecting fluids and surgery. Proper receptacles to dispose of needles and blades should be available to avoid accidental punctures, cuts, or any form of viral transmission.
- Organization of medical supplies and equipment: There should be appropriate storage areas for medical supplies and equipment. Liquids, gases, and solids must be separated as much as possible. Make sure that medical supplies are out of reach of unauthorized persons. For instance, opioids and other high-substance abuse drugs must only be accessible to licensed pharmacists or doctors.
4. Install Mobility Assistive Devices
Some examples of mobility assistive devices include wheelchair lifts, elevators, and ramps. Nurses and nursing aides usually carry heavy loads of medical items and patients, so they need assistive mobility devices to avoid back injuries, bad posture, slips, and falls.
Computer hardware and software, such as screen readers, voice recognition programs, and screen enlargement applications may help improve the productivity of healthcare workers and enhance the experience of patients as well as their relatives or caregivers. Healthcare facilities may invest in adaptive switches and smart utensils, allowing residents with limited motor skills to accomplish activities such as feeding themselves.
Smart features and devices may also be installed to help residents and caregivers groom, dress, and cook. Mobile devices with specialized grips and handles could be helpful too. Also, lights on doorbells and telephones are a few examples of safety devices that may be adopted in hospitals, clinics, and other treatment centers.
5. Hire More Healthcare Assistants
Low healthcare staff-to-patient ratio may increase workplace injury because nurses often need to extend hours of duty and get tired due to increased workload. A nurse may suffer from severe back issues in a nursing home because of handling too many patients. One solution to avoid workplace injuries is to hire more healthcare workers to balance the ratio.
Many nurses are thinking of quitting because of the influx of COVID-19 patients. It would help not only to use technology but also to hire more allied health workers, like nursing aides. While they don’t have a bachelor’s degree in nursing, nursing aides may help reduce nurses’ workload, such as moving and assisting patients.
Being aware of the common workplace injuries and using modern medical equipment and supplies could help avoid risks that cause injuries to healthcare workers. Mobile computer carts and telehealth services may help promote efficiency, productivity, and safety in the medical workplace as well.
Moreover, it’s crucial to set health and safety guidelines in hospitals and other healthcare facilities to prevent workplace injuries, such as proper hospital waste management systems. Mobility solutions may be installed in appropriate areas to avoid falls, slips, and trips too. Lastly, it would help to hire more workers to balance the workload among doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals with respect to the number of patients they need to attend to every day.