Nurses spend most of their time with sick patients, often having to touch them, so they risk of spreading and catching infectious diseases. Since nurses can’t afford to be sick all the time, they do whatever they can to keep their immune systems strong and avoid germs. Nurses are devoted to improving the health of others. But they can’t do their jobs properly if they are sick, tired or stressed.
The nature of the profession means spending long hours on their feet. If nurses don’t make their own health a priority, it is easy to burn out. But when it comes to avoiding germs, the problem lies with contagious diseases such as influenza and tuberculosis (TB). Patients with serious illnesses like TB are isolated. Also, nurses take precautions such as wearing personal protective equipment like gowns, masks and gloves.
Even the common flu can be deadly, so nurses shouldn’t take it lightly. In addition to receiving a vaccination, there are lots of other preventative measures nurses can use to avoid falling ill. Some measures that prevent infection from spreading are complex. Others, such as hand-washing are simple yet effective.
Washing hands thoroughly can go a long way towards preventing the spread of infection. Learning how to protect themselves and their patients is an important part of training for nurses. Some employers have introduced health programs into the workplace to help nurses care for themselves and stay healthy.
Nurses need to take an active role in taking charge of their health. This is not just for themselves, but to make sure that they’re providing the highest quality of care for their patients. When nurses are not functioning at their best, the potential for serious consequences arises. If you’re a nurse, here are some ways you can make sure you stay healthy.
1. Wash Hands Frequently
The single most important way of controlling infection is handwashing. Scrubbing with soap and water for about 20 seconds is necessary to fully disinfect your hands. Nurses and doctors need to wash their hands vigorously before and after touching a patient. Also, handwashing is critical before any aseptic procedure, after touching a patient’s surroundings and after exposure to bodily fluids.
However, nurses have a special way of washing their hands. This vigorous hand-washing procedure takes care of places they may otherwise neglect, such as the thumbs. It involves wetting the hands with clean running water, applying soap and lathering the hands. Then nurses rub the palms of their hands together and use their palms to rub the top of each hand.
Also, nurses wash their interlaced fingers and thumbs. Proper hand-washing includes rotational rubbing with clasped fingers of the palms of each hand. Nurses must rinse their hands thoroughly with clean running water while holding them downwards. If they can’t turn the tap off without using their hands, they use their wrists or elbows. If that is not possible, nurses use a disposable paper towel or air-dry their hands.
A nurse’s hands must be completely dry before inserting them into gloves. If their hands are still damp, more germs can attach themselves and they’ve wasted their washing efforts.
An alcohol-based hand sanitizer provides a quick way to disinfect hands. Using such a hand sanitizer is less harsh on the skin than constant hand washing. In most cases, these sanitizers work just as well to deal with cold and flu germs as washing the hands. And nurses can use them in situations where there is no immediate access to running water.