Be Proactive about Your Own Health
Exposure to illness is not the only issue for health care workers. On-the-job injury is also a potential for harm. For instance, nurses have the highest risk for back injuries of any profession. Health care workers who have direct patient contact all risk injury while assisting patients and need to protect their backs and other joints. An injury can be a career-ending event.
Proper Body Mechanics Prevent Injury
Proper body mechanics are essential to everyone, but are especially so for health care workers involved in direct patient care. One wrong move can cost you your job and your health.
Lifting is one of the most dangerous things anyone can do. Whether lifting a box or piece of equipment, or assisting in moving a patient, there are a few rules that must always be followed. These include:
Never try to lift or move a patient by yourself. Always summon help, and wait until they arrive.
Move as close to the object or patient as possible.
Never twist; always sidestep or pivot.
Always keep your lower back in its naturally curved or arched state.
When lifting, place your feet firmly, set apart about the width of your shoulders, to provide a solid, wide base of support.
Keep your head up and your shoulders back. Your upper back should be perfectly straight.
Tighten your stomach muscles and keep them tight. Bow slightly at the hips and then squat. Use your legs, not your back! Push up from your knees, using your momentum to assist you.
In Case of Injury
If you do get hurt, report the injury immediately and have it checked out. If you need treatment or therapy, be sure to get it without delay. Early intervention and treatment are essential to a positive outcome. Understand your rights and don't be intimidated. Be proactive and protect yourself. It is also important to understand that damage can be cumulative, especially in back injuries. One small wrong movement can trigger a serious situation.
Always be sure you know how to use something before attempting to use it. If in doubt, always ask for help. Don't take shortcuts. If the equipment has a safety mechanism, use it. For example, many needles now come with a shield to protect from needle-stick injuries, but if you don't use them, they cannot protect you.
If You Get Sick
If you are sick, stay home. Don't share your germs with others. Your patients and coworkers don't need any more exposure. Rest, drink fluids, and eat what you can. If you need to, see your physician. If you need antibiotics, take them until they are gone.
You can do your part to help avoid illness by being proactive. Take your annual flu shot. During cold and flu season, be sure to get plenty of rest and avoid crowds as much as possible. And, of course, always adhere to proper hygiene and hand washing.
If you need a mental health day to renew yourself and reduce stress, take it. Be kind to your coworkers and try to plan ahead, but if you can't, take the time. You must take care of you, so that you can take care of others.