We cannot imagine our healthcare system without healthcare workers. They provide care and services to the sick and ailing through direct and indirect roles. Doctors, nurses, and emergency medical personnel are front-line soldiers, while assistants, laboratory technicians, and helpers work in the background. Even medical waste handlers play a vital role in healthcare by adequately disposing of infectious waste.
All healthcare workers stand in front of the danger all day, directly exposed to sharp objects, bacterial infections, viral particles, bloodborne pathogens, and radiation. As a result of their constant exposure, they are at risk of accidents and are more prone to catching fatal diseases and an abundance of health issues.
The safety of healthcare workers is of paramount importance to the government. In this context, the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has set standard guidelines for protection. Health workers follow these instructions throughout their working timelines to prevent health hazards.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Protective equipment (PPE) is simply equipment that protects the wearer from harm. PPE includes protective clothing, gloves, face masks, helmets, eye goggles, protective footwear, respirators, and other equipment specially designed to protect against infectious agents. As the CDC and FDA deemed, all healthcare personnel must wear personal protective equipment (PPE) in any health facility.
The isolation gowns are classified as a Class II medical device by the FDA. Healthcare facilities typically buy isolation gowns in bulk because visitors also wear them to immunocompromised patients. Due to the high demand, hospital staff prefers reusable gowns as they are more effective and environmentally friendly. Therefore, it is necessary that they maintain the quality of their PPE and only purchase superior quality isolation gowns for sale.
While handling blood samples of patients requires gloves and masks to reduce the risk of infection by deadly pathogens. However, this gear is in direct contact with sensitive body parts susceptible to fatal diseases and unsuitable for reuse.
It is necessary for healthcare workers to get immunized against all deadly pathogens as they are most susceptible to health hazards. CDC recommends all healthcare workers get certain immunizations to provide an additional layer of protection on top of PPE.
In a report published by WHO, a significant percentage of healthcare workers contract tuberculosis and HIV by mishandling the patient samples or due to lack of PPE. The government issued a guideline with information about additional vaccinations and immunizations necessary for healthcare workers to prevent this. These vaccines also contain antigens to prevent Covid-19, Hepatitis B, Influenza, Measles and Mumps, Varicella, Tuberculosis, and Tetanus.
In many cases, these immunizations are available to the public following certain instances of exposure. However, state law requires that healthcare workers be fully immunized against these pathogens to reduce the risk of contracting them.
Maintaining a clean and sanitary work environment is crucial in a healthcare setting. A set of guidelines was released by WHO to ensure sanitation in all healthcare settings. Every hospital and laboratory must adhere to specific rules for proper decontamination. These instructions recommended treating any exposed surfaces with sodium hypochlorite, commonly known as bleach. Every worker is required to clean machines, benches, and other surfaces.
Many pathogens might be on the equipment used by healthcare workers, which increases the risk of infection. They must sanitize machines with 95% alcohol to reduce the possibility of water interfering with their work. Spillage kits that contain PPE and absorbent items such as paper towels, dustpans, disposal bags deal with spilled body fluids.
Waste disposal may seem like a simple task, but carrying it is essential to carry it out with the utmost care. Keep in mind that the waste consists of potentially infectious materials that can harm the workers responsible for waste disposal.
The media circulates a lot of public service messages regarding the disposal of injection needles. As they are the leading cause of HIV/AIDS transmission to the skin or blood. WHO published a report according to which around 1000 healthcare workers die from occupational HIV. 4.4% of healthcare workers become infected with HIV due to needle stick injuries. In addition, 40% of Hepatitis B and 40% of Hepatitis C is also due to similar injuries.
Infectious and non-infectious exposures to chemicals and toxic gases like glutaraldehyde and ethylene oxide can both be deadly. It is ideal for any facility to have a ventilation system that instantly gets rid of these poisonous chemicals.
To ensure proper ventilation systems in hospitals and other healthcare facilities, WHO published guidelines for constructing airways and ventilation ducts.
Healthcare workers are the backbone of a healthy community. They often sacrifice their safety and health for the sake of the community. However, they can protect themselves and the public from the prevailing pathogens by observing proper precautions and standards.