Healthcare workers face unique occupational hazards in their line of work, especially risks of exposure to infectious diseases.
As medical knowledge and technology advance, new guidelines and safety protocols are constantly being developed to protect doctors, nurses, and other healthcare staff.
This article discusses some of the key measures implemented in 2023 to enhance safety for healthcare workers.
Adhering to Strict Infection Control Protocols
Hand washing is considered the most effective method for reducing the spread of infections in hospitals and clinics. Healthcare workers must wash their hands before and after contact with each patient and after contact with contaminated surfaces or equipment.
Appropriate PPE, such as masks, gloves, gowns, and eye protection, are worn based on the type of patient interaction and procedure being performed. PPE is properly donned, doffed with each use, disposed of, or sterilized as required.
All areas of healthcare facilities, including waiting rooms, patient rooms, operating rooms, and intensive care units, are regularly cleaned and disinfected using approved products to eliminate pathogens. Medical equipment is also properly decontaminated between each patient’s use.
Implementing Vaccination Programs
Healthcare workers must be up to date with all recommended vaccinations, including the annual influenza vaccine. Doctors and nurses play an important role in educating patients about the benefits of vaccination and encouraging immunization.
The effectiveness of vaccination programs is monitored to determine if any changes need to be made to immunization schedules or policies.
Enhancing Respiratory Precautions
Respiratory protective equipment respirators, such as N95 masks, are used when caring for patients with airborne diseases like tuberculosis. Staff are fitted for the appropriate size and model of a respirator and trained on proper use and disposal.
Measures such as covering coughs and sneezes, offering surgical masks to coughing patients, and placing “cover your cough” signs are in place to promote respiratory hygiene.
Healthcare facilities have ventilation systems that provide adequate circulation and filtration of air to reduce risks of airborne disease transmission. Airborne infection isolation rooms are available for patients with serious contagious illnesses.
Conducting Regular Health Screenings
All individuals entering healthcare settings are screened for symptoms of infectious diseases, especially respiratory illnesses, to identify risks of exposure as early as possible. Staff also self-monitor for symptoms and stay home if unwell.
Routine testing for diseases such as tuberculosis and hepatitis B may be required for healthcare workers based on their roles and patient populations. Testing is also available for staff in case of potential exposure to an infectious patient.
Temperature checks using infrared scanners are commonly performed for anyone entering a healthcare facility. Staff temperatures are also checked before starting shifts to identify potential fever, which can indicate an infection.
Practicing Safe Handling And Disposal Of Hazardous Materials
All infectious waste, sharp tools, and other hazardous materials are properly segregated, contained, handled, stored, and disposed of according to established policies and protocols to avoid risks of exposure or spillage. Adhere to guidelines for handling biological samples, such that tissue and other biowaste are safely collected, labeled, transported, and processed according to standard precautions.
Refrigeration and sealed, leak-proof transport containers are used as required. Hazardous drugs and solutions are often handled using closed system transfer devices to minimize risks of spills, aerosolization, and staff exposure during preparation and administration.
Promoting Mental Health and Well-being
The healthcare profession involves many stressors that can take a toll on mental health, including exhaustion and burnout. Doctors and nurses are often made to work in multiple-hour surgeries that can take a toll on the body. Moreover, front-line workers are always to be on-site for emergencies, as was soon during the pandemic.
When the rest of the world was working from home, these doctors and nurses took care of patients on-site. Also, medical workers often must see many deaths or cater to emotional family members during their shifts, which can genuinely impact you mentally. In this case, creating mental health awareness through workshops is important to meet everyone’s emotional needs.
Though the danger of the pandemic has decreased to a great extent, it is still crucial for doctors and nurses or any health workers to protect themselves against anything they might be exposed to in hospitals while treating patients. However, with the life they lead, it is important to cater to not just their physical exhaustion but their mental as well!
Using the tips mentioned will ensure that you’re always safe when working in the healthcare sector.