5 Health Problems Common Among Nurses
Nursing is a vital profession of the healthcare industry that ensures the delivery of healthcare services to patients. Most nurses perform their duties in hospitals resulting in more exposure to injuries and ailments due to the job’s sensitive nature and continuous contact with patients. They work in long shifts walking, standing, bending, and stretching. In addition, they often move and lift patients from chairs to beds and stretchers. These all led to nurses’ health problems, including back pain, shoulder pain, and several injuries.
Here are the common health problems that occur among nurses.
Nurses often develop overexertion, resulting in many health risks, including muscles, joints, tendons, nerves, spinal discs, and cartilage disorders. The primary causes of overexertion injuries are excessive physical work, lifting, bending, twisting, and repetitive motions. Many nurses face back injuries, strains, and sprains after lifting or moving patients. Aging also enhances the chances of developing disorders in nurses. For instance, nurses above 55 have higher risks of injuries than nurses aged 45 or below. They need to take rest and off-form shifts to recover from injuries. Nurse managers can play a pivotal role in managing the shifts and handling nurses’ health crises in such situations. They are well trained and equipped with relevant education degrees such as nursing administration MSN program online that help them to mitigate such challenges.
Accidental Needlesticks and Equipment Injuries
Nurses also encounter injuries caused by contact with professional objects or equipment. For instance, they collide with heavy equipment or expose work hazards like used needlesticks. Though, the ratio of nurses who develop accidental needlesticks and equipment injuries is low. In the United States, 600,000 to 800,000 needlestick injuries occur annually. Still, it holds importance due to its evident consequences. These injuries can lead to life-threatening and blood-borne infections. In addition, more than 1,000 healthcare workers develop serious infections every year. These diseases may include HIV, Hepatitis B, or C.
Falls, Slips, and Trips
The second leading types of injuries are falls, trips, and slips among nurses caused by common environmental factors—for example, wet floors, walking obstacles, etc. Liquid contaminations like ice, water, wax, gel, grease, bodily fluids can also serve as the causes of such injuries. The majority of these injuries, according to research, are caused by dangers that nurses may avoid with awareness and care.
The most common duty of nurses is to accompany patients from the exam room to their respective rooms on wheelchairs and stretchers. Still, it can leave both nurses and patients vulnerable to injuries. Some of the risks related to patient transport include falls and pressure sores. Nurses can fall while lifting and moving patients incorrectly. They can also lose balance due to patients being overweight.
Transporting patients also results in skin injuries. For example, while moving patients from bed to wheelchair, nurses may develop sores or lacerations to the skin. Other potential hazards include moving patients without considering the applications of various safety concerns like loose seat belts of a wheelchair.
Violent Injuries inflicted by People
According to the reports, 12% of injuries are caused by nurses due to violent events. This ratio is three times higher than violent events in all sectors.
In the United States, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) reported that workplace violence inflicted upon healthcare professionals could be categorized into four types:
- Patients who become violent under medical care
- Violence among employees due to hostile behavior or any other factor
- Violence is caused by criminal perpetrators who are not patients and are not directly linked with a medical facility or their employees
- Violence in personal relationships
Though several violent events go unreported each year, it still affects nurses’ work. There are many reasons nurses choose not to report violent incidents. They may work for healthcare organizations that are based on profit-driven models. Some medical facilities are so obsessed with patient satisfaction that they neglect the safety of their staff. In addition, they are hesitant to hold patients accountable for their actions. Nurses also worsen this problem by avoiding violent reporting events thinking it might cost them their jobs. They also believe it can consume their time as they have a tight schedule to follow. Some of them may believe that it cannot bring any change in the infrastructure of the healthcare delivery system controlled by the employer’s policies or procedures.
However, with the rise of technology and more awareness, nurses have started to raise their voices against unhealthy policies and uncooperative and violent behaviors of patients. Laws are also playing a significant role in shaping the healthcare industry. Some nurses are vocal enough to post about their bad experiences on social media to highlight the deficiencies in the healthcare sector.
Some notable mentions include health risks caused by exposure to harmful substances or environments such as chemicals, compounds, medications, volatile organic compounds, sterilants, latex, pesticides, etc. For instance, latex allergy in case of mild reaction can lead to dermatitis. In contrast, a severe allergic reaction can trigger anaphylaxis. Nurses can use vinyl gloves to replace latex when they are allergic. They should get tested for common allergies, especially those related to their workplace. They can also prevent themselves from hazardous substances by following SOPs and safety measures.
Nurses are the cornerstone of healthcare services. Medical facilities cannot deliver high-quality patients without their continuous support and effort. Maintaining a healthy environment and adopting productive workplace practices are essential to give their best while serving patients. Hospitals and medical organizations can formulate and implement conducive policies for the well-being of their nursing staff. They can also conduct in-house sessions for nurses to raise their awareness about the policies and laws. It would prove useful in dealing with extreme situations and challenges in service delivery. They should also take nurses onboard while devising strategies for receiving their feedback. Extra care and systematic policies to protect nurses from such hazards would ultimately benefit the entire healthcare system.