How to Avoid the Risks of Working as an ER Nurse

How to Avoid the Risks of Working as an ER Nurse

Working as an ER nurse can put you in some of the most difficult and dangerous situations you’ll ever face. However, if you stay alert and aware of potential hazards, you can stay safe while still caring for and protecting your patients.
Here are some of the most common hazards that nurses face in the emergency room, as well as what you can do to reduce your risk and stay safe.

Back, Neck, and Shoulder Injuries
Nurses who transfer patients from gurneys to hospital beds are frequently injured in the back, neck, and shoulders, especially if they attempt to lift patients alone or overestimate their strength.
Even if you are confident that you can move or lift patients on your own, always ask for assistance from one or two other nurses or doctors. Lift with proper form and body mechanics to reduce the risk of injury, and use mechanical lifts and devices as needed.

Bloodborne Diseases
ER nurses are frequently exposed to broken glass, blades, needles, and other sharp objects, which raises their risk of contracting serious and potentially fatal bloodborne diseases. In addition, nurses in the ER may come into contact with broken skin and bodily fluids, which can lead to a bloodborne illness.
When handling sharp objects, use best practices such as avoiding bending or recapping used needles and disposing of sharp objects in appropriate leak- and puncture-proof containers.

Infectious Diseases
Patients in the emergency room who are critically ill or have infectious diseases may cough, sneeze, or vomit, endangering those around them, including nurses.
To avoid infectious diseases such as hepatitis, influenza, and COVID-19, always wear personal protective equipment (PPE) in the ER. Gloves, goggles, face shields, face masks, and respirators are all common types of PPE to wear in the ER.

Slips and Falls
Bodily fluids such as blood, vomit, and urine frequently end up on the floors of ER departments, increasing your risk of slips and falls that can easily lead to fractures or disease exposure. Standing water or cleaning solutions on the floor can also increase your chances of falling.
Make sure your ER’s floors are always clean and dry, and put up warning signs if the floors are still wet to keep you and your coworkers from slipping and falling.

Workplace Violence
An estimated 70% of ER nurses have been hit or kicked on the job. Some patients, particularly those with unstable psychiatric symptoms or who have used illegal drugs, may be aggressive or violent. Patients who have been severely injured may even lash out and inadvertently harm those who are attempting to care for them.
Invest time in learning effective de-escalation techniques to help you calm agitated, aggressive, or attack-prone patients. Your hospital or healthcare organization may even teach you how to identify potentially dangerous situations and diffuse them before they become problematic or violent.

ER nurses frequently experience stress, fatigue, and burnout. Burnout can have a significant impact on your career and livelihood, increasing your risk of anxiety and depression and making you more likely to make mistakes in the emergency room.
Make time for self-care outside of the ER to keep your health and overall well-being in check. Rest well, engage in enjoyable activities, and spend time with your pets, family, and loved ones.
Seek support and resources for nurses as needed, and don’t be afraid to say no to commitments you don’t think you can handle or that are too overwhelming. Connect with other nurses on social media for helpful tips and insight into a healthy nursing lifestyle.
ER nurses are some of the most important people in our healthcare system. They are often the first line of defense against a disaster and work tirelessly to keep patients safe. However, with great power comes great responsibility, and ER nurses must take care to avoid the dangers that come with their job. We hope this article has helped you understand some of these dangers and given you some tips on how to stay safe while working in the ER.

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