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Are you risking your life while caring for others?

AdobeStock_124928348.jpgAll aspects and levels of nursing are demanding -- both physically and emotionally. Registered nurses in medical facilities in Minnesota frequently have to suffer the consequences of staff shortages. Inappropriate numbers of on-duty nurses threaten not only the safety and health of patients, but it also increases pressure on nurses. This could lead to fatigue and a higher rate of occupational injuries.

Are you working in a medical facility that uses mandatory overtime as a tool to limit the number of RNs they employ? The American Nurses Association regards this as a dangerous practice that creates circumstances in which preventable medical errors could occur due to nurses' fatigue.

Typical safety hazards

When you decided on nursing as a career, you likely knew that the job is demanding, but did you know that you would have to put your health on the line in the process? If you are aware of the following safety hazards, you might be better able to take precautions:

  • Chemical threats: Dangerous toxins, chemicals and hazardous waste products will threaten your health every day. Protect yourself by wearing personal protective equipment like gloves and a mask.
  • Needlestick risks: Accidental punctures by needle equipment such as hypodermic syringes can happen during the use, disassembly or disposal of needles. Mitigate this by practicing safe procedures and using proper disposal devices.
  • Musculoskeletal dangers: Moving and lifting people of different sizes will always be par for the course in your job, and learning safe lifting techniques can provide some protection. Also, mitigate these risks by using assistive lifting equipment, or call for help from co-workers when such devices are unavailable.
  • Workplace violence: You might have to deal with violence from patients, visitors and even other staff members. Learn how to recognize red flags and how to deal with threats of violence.
  • Contagious diseases: Along with the risks of infections caused by blood-borne pathogens, influenza and other illnesses caused by airborne pathogens will threaten your health. Learn as much as possible about the precautions you can take to prevent diseases.

No job is worth risking your health, or even your life, and although the ANA continually works on ways to protect staff nurses, you will be wise to take your own precautions.

How will you cope with injuries or illness?

Coping with occupational injuries or illnesses as a health care worker could cause you concern and anxiety because of mounting medical bills and the lack of income if you are unable to return to work for some time. Knowing that the Minnesota workers' compensation program has your back might provide comfort, but the claims process could be challenging. However, you can utilize the skills of experienced legal counsel to assist you every step of the way.

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