How can Nurses Protect Themselves when Helping Patients with Infectious Diseases?

The interest in how hospitals and medical clinics protect nurses from infectious diseases increased after the reports of medical workers and others contracting Ebola from infected patients. Medical facilities generally have strict requirements in place that limit the contact that medical workers have with certain patients and other regulations that offer more protection. Medical professionals who follow the standards put in place by their workplaces can rest assured that they won’t contract those diseases or pass those diseases onto their loved ones.

Wear the Right Gear

According to the Lippincott Nursing Center, nurses should wear several key items when working with infectious patients, including: a gown, a mask that covers his or her face, gloves and some type of eye protection. Some hospitals require that nurses wear a respirator in place of the mask. Both items let them breathe easily without worrying about inhaling any germs or toxins. When worn properly, the gloves and gown will cover all exposed areas of skin beneath the neck. The mask and eyewear help cover the lower part of the face, the eyes, mouth and nose.

Clean and Sanitize

Immediately after working with an infected patient, the nurse will leave that space and begin taking off his or her gear. They generally take off their gloves, eyewear and gown and place those items in a hazardous waste can placed in the room. This can holds all the hazardous trash and waste inside and prevents others from touching those items. They take off their eyewear after leaving a patient’s room. Medical experts recommend that nurses wash their hands and any areas exposed to the patient within a few moments after leaving the room. Hospitals will thoroughly clean and sanitize the room as well.

Get Vaccinated

One of the best ways to protect nurses from infectious diseases is with vaccinations. Measles, mumps and other types of diseases can quickly spread from one person to the next. It only takes the patient coughing into the air in front of an unprotected nurse for the nurse to contract that disease and pass it onto others. Most medical offices require that nurses show proof that they received vaccinations within the recent past before working. Hospitals and other facilities will also perform tuberculosis tests and other tests to see if a medical worker had any exposure to those diseases in the past.

Follow Quarantine Regulations

Hospitals and medical facilities now require that those exposed to infectious diseases follow quarantine regulations and procedures. A nurse in Maine made headlines after she ignored those restrictions after exposure to Ebola. After seeing the woman riding her bike and spending time in town, the state finally demanded that she remain at home for the remainder of the incubation period. Infectious diseases often have an incubation period that ranges from a few days to a few weeks. Nurses quarantined, as a result of exposure to certain diseases, can monitor themselves for symptoms that might indicate an infection.

Patients look up to nurses and believe that they can help them with their medical needs. Those nurses often work with people dealing with serious diseases and may find themselves exposed to infectious diseases. To protect nurses from infectious diseases, medical facilities require that they wear the right protective gear, wash their hands and skin, get vaccinated and follow quarantine procedures.

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