DiversityNursing Blog

CDC Publish Map Of 'Distinctive' Deaths By State

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Mon, May 18, 2015 @ 11:31 AM

Written by David McNamee

www.medicalnewstoday.com 

distinctive death map resized 600A new, first-of-its-kind infographic published in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Preventing Chronic Disease journal maps the most 'distinctive' causes of deaths across all states in the US.

The map presents 2001-10 data on causes of death within individual states that were statistically more significant than the national averages, drawn from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) own "Underlying Cause of Death" file, which is accessible through the WONDER (Wide-ranging Online Data for Epidemiologic Research) website.

The largest number of deaths in the map from a single condition were the 37,292 deaths from atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease in Michigan. The fewest were 11 deaths from "acute and rapidly progressive nephritic and nephrotic syndrome" in Montana.

The numbers of death from discrete illnesses varied across states. For example, 15,000 HIV-related deaths were recorded in Florida during the study period, 679 deaths from tuberculosis in Texas, and 22 people died from syphilis in Louisiana.

The most distinctive causes of death in New York were from gonorrhea and chlamydia, and the state also had the highest number of deaths from infection of female reproductive organs - mostly as a result of untreated sexually transmitted diseases.

According to the researchers behind the map, some of the findings make "intuitive sense," such as the high numbers of death from influenza in northern states, or pneumoconiosis (black lung disease) in states where coal is mined. However, some of the other findings are less easily explained, such as the deaths from septicemia in New Jersey.

What are the strengths and limitations of the map?

The map only presents one distinctive cause of death for each state, all of which were significantly higher than the national rate. However, many other causes of death that were also significantly higher than national rates were not mapped.

Another limitation of the map is that it has a predisposition toward exhibiting rare causes of death. For instance, in 22 of the states, the total number of deaths mapped was under 100. 

"These limitations are characteristic of maps generally and are why these maps are best regarded as snapshots and not comprehensive statistical summaries," explain the researchers, Francis P. Boscoe, of the New York State Cancer Registry, and Eva Pradhan, of the New York State Department of Health.

Boscoe and Pradhan say that the map has been "a robust conversation starter" - generating hypotheses that they consider would not have occurred had the data been formatted in "an equivalent tabular representation." They add:

"Although chronic disease prevention efforts should continue to emphasize the most common conditions, an outlier map such as this one should also be of interest to public health professionals, particularly insofar as it highlights nonstandard cause-of-death certification practices within and between states that can potentially be addressed through education and training."

Topics: illness, health, healthcare, CDC, population, medical, patients, death, infographic, map, causes of death, states

A Nurse Decides to Get Hands-On in the Ebola Zone

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Mon, Jan 19, 2015 @ 11:03 AM

By ANEMONA HARTOCOLLIS

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Lindsey Hallen is in the bug spray aisle at REI, the outdoor equipment emporium in SoHo, looking for exactly the right mosquito repellent to take to West Africa’s Ebola zone, when her phone rings. Three ascending tones, the personal anthem of an emergency room nurse, captured in a ringtone called “Summit.”

“Hello?” she says, pulling the phone out of her jacket pocket. Then in an aside, “I think this is them.”

Ms. Hallen listens, pacing back and forth along the aisle, as her gaunt face takes on the same wide-eyed look of concentration it assumes as when she works in the emergency room at Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan. Total Focus. Matter of Life and Death.

Since the latest Ebola outbreak entered public consciousness, most accounts of United States health workers have focused on the ones returning; the missionaries who were airlifted out and brought back from the brink of death, or Craig Spencer, the young doctor cured of the virus at New York City’s premier public hospital, Bellevue Hospital Center in Manhattan, while much of the city held its breath.

Now Ms. Hallen, a 31-year-old nurse with two years’ experience working with critically ill patients in this country, is going the other way, heading to West Africa to fight an epidemic that has sickened 21,000 people and killed more than 8,000.

“Why?” her friends and colleagues invariably ask when they find out what she is doing. Why would a relatively young, untested nurse want to risk putting her life in jeopardy to help save people living thousands of miles away, people sick and dying of a brutal, bleeding, contagious fever?

The question annoys her. Her reasons are instinctive, from the gut. You feel driven to do this or you don’t. The thinking only comes later.

“Why not?” she replies. “Why not me?” So the phone call shakes her. The woman on the other end of the line is a recruiter for Partners in Health, the Boston organization that is sending her to West Africa. Instead of Sierra Leone, as had been planned, the group now wants her to go to Liberia, the woman says. Ebola cases there have fallen, but they need people who can rebuild the shattered medical system, teach about controlling infection. She won’t have direct contact with patients. Yes, she can still go to Sierra Leone if she wants to, and take care of patients there. The final decision is up to her.

So the choice is this: Be an instructor, safe, teaching other people how to wear a protective suit, or be the one wearing the suit. She is given a day to decide.

Ebola officially reached American shores on Sept. 30, when Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian visiting family in Dallas, tested positive for the virus. Preparing for a possible onslaught, Lenox Hill Hospital set up a room within the emergency department where Ebola patients would be isolated. The staff had to be trained in wearing protective gear, the stifling, fluid-proof layers that include bootees, gloves, gowns, goggles and face shields. The more Ms. Hallen learned, the more she wanted to know. She volunteered for advanced training. She started lingering on the website of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “I was looking at the case numbers and I started to become a little obsessed with everything that was going on over there, and how it was impacting us here,” she said.

She spoke of her newfound interest to her older sister, Kimberly, a real estate photographer, who sensed that this was more than a casual attraction. “She texted me saying she had volunteered to train how to handle Ebola if it came to New York City,” Kimberly recalled. “In the back of my head, I was like, ‘Oh, God, I feel like this is going to expand into her wanting to do a little bit more.’ But I kind of put it away. Maybe not.”

“She’s always been like this ever since she was little,” Kimberly Hallen said. “She was always the one who was trying to find the next fun thing to do. She was bored so easily.”

Lindsey Hallen, a slight blonde with eyes that shift from green to blue depending on the weather and her mood, grew up in suburban Cheshire, Conn., and was a communications major in college, but not a very serious one. “I was very social and that was what I cared about,” she said. After graduation, she moved to Hawaii, without knowing anyone or even having visited. “I was amazed how well everything fell into place,” she said.

She worked at an animal clinic and went to South Africa on an unpaid internship in wildlife conservation. After two years, she moved to Boston, where her sister lives, and began working at Global Vision International, the organization that had sponsored her internship. Her job sent her to South Africa, Guatemala and Costa Rica, to make sure projects were running smoothly. As a memento, she wears three bracelets on her right arm made of twisted copper and brass that she bought at street markets in South Africa. She never took them off, but she had to leave them with her sister before departing for Africa.

After three years, she wanted to grow. She thought about veterinary school, but she also wanted to travel. “Nursing came to mind as a perfect middle ground,” she said. Now, after two years in the E.R., the dread that she has done something wrong no longer wakes her at night. She can rattle off the medical script for an alcoholic with the shakes, a child with the flu or an elderly woman with a broken hip like someone reciting a Social Security number.

There has to be more to life than the three-block dash from her Upper East Side brownstone studio to the 8-a.m.-to-8-p.m. shift at Lenox Hill, and back.

The Ebola patient in Dallas died on Oct. 8, having set off a rapid chain of events. Two nurses who treated him fell ill, shaking confidence in the United States health care system. In mid-October, several New York hospitals volunteered to be Ebola treatment centers, including a sister hospital to Lenox Hill. On Oct. 23, Dr. Spencer, recently returned from Guinea, was rushed to Bellevue and tested positive. The next day, Kaci Hickox, a nurse returning from Sierra Leone through Newark Liberty International Airport, was forced into quarantine because of public officials’ fears.

Rather than being frightened, Ms. Hallen was swept away. Ebola was her 9/11, the disaster that nourished her sense of purpose.

Scrolling through the C.D.C. website, she came across a link to an application form for medical volunteers willing to go to West Africa, kind of like a universal college application online.

She recalls sending it in a few days after Ms. Hickox returned. Her first response, from Partners in Health, arrived on Halloween night. She sent back an email as she dressed for a Halloween party. She was not a sexy witch, or even a nurse. She wore a $12 zombie suit with a zipper splitting her face.

Still, she didn’t really think it would happen. And she assumed that even if she were selected, she would not be paid, and she could not afford that. But Partners in Health agreed to pay for her travel, expenses and medical insurance, as well as provide a stipend that would cover most of her lost salary for nine weeks; six weeks in West Africa and three weeks upon her return, during the disease’s incubation period. As a single person, she didn’t have to worry about disrupting anyone else’s life.

The agency also agreed to pay for her evacuation if she contracted Ebola — a further reminder of the dangers.

Her mother, Laura, cried when she heard the news. Her father, Dan, “had a million questions” but was proud of her.

“I think that she’s got the right mentality to perform in this type of environment,” Mr. Hallen said. “I guess what I would liken it to is firefighters that rush into a burning building when everyone else is running out. All I can say to that is, thank God for them. Where would we be without them?”

That mentality is not widely shared, the numbers suggest.

Since November, about 1,300 people have applied to travel to West Africa through Partners in Health, and about 360 have been hired, Sheila Davis, chief of the agency’s Ebola response, said. She said she was still looking for people with the right “humility,” but the number of applicants has declined as Ebola has moved off the front pages.

North Shore-LIJ Health System, the hospital network that includes Lenox Hill, has 54,000 employees. Ms. Hallen is only the second one to go to West Africa to treat Ebola, Joseph Moscola, the system’s chief of human resources, said. An informal survey of other New York City hospitals found few if any volunteers at most of them.

At some hospitals an internal debate rages over whether highly trained specialists should be volunteering to do menial work in African field hospitals or can make a better contribution at home, perhaps by doing Ebola research.

“Major academic institutions, you would think, would be those who would be pushing it,” Ms. Davis said. “But it’s the opposite. It’s definitely been Middle America, and California, but not the numbers you would think in Boston and New York.”

In preparation for Ms. Hallen’s trip, Partners in Health sent her a packing list. Mostly it is similar to a list for summer sleep-away camp: shampoo, toothbrush, underwear. But not entirely. She will need a headlamp, in case the electricity goes down, and some fancier clothes to wear for Embassy events. Also, styptic pencils to stanch cuts, and tampons, for nosebleeds, ominous inclusions in an environment where bodily fluids may be deadly. Ms. Hallen has scratched out the word “condoms.” She has enough contagion to worry about, she said. She trades email with other volunteers. Bring washable shoes, they say. Dried fruit, nuts and granola bars, to break the monotony of rice and beans.

She picks up her mosquito net at REI and jokes that she might use it to keep away the cockroaches in her apartment. Last night she slept with a hat on, haunted by a woman who had arrived at the emergency room with ear pain. The diagnosis: a cockroach stuck in her ear canal.

At the checkout counter, the brooding, longhaired salesman examines her basket and asks where she is going. “Sierra Leone or Liberia,” she replies.

“You should read this book,” he says, and on a scrap of paper writes the name Peter Piot, author of a memoir about the discovery of Ebola and AIDS.

The next night, she writes an email to the recruiter from Partners in Health. Deletes it. Writes it again. Presses “send” at 11:42 p.m.

At 10 a.m. Saturday, she was scheduled to fly to Sierra Leone, to care for people who are sick and dying of Ebola.

Source: www.nytimes.com

Topics: illness, sick, Ebola, outbreak, West Africa, epidemic, nursing, nurse, disease, medical, patients, hospital, treatment

Man awakens from 12 years in 'vegetative state'

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Wed, Jan 14, 2015 @ 01:33 PM

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Martin Pistorius fell into a mysterious coma when he was a vibrant 12-year-old boy in the 1980s.

He found himself locked inside his own body – unable to speak, make eye contact or even move his own limbs.

Martin’s doctors told his parents, Rodney and Joan Pistorius, that the boy had cryptococci meningitis. They said Martin should be taken home to die in peace.

But Martin would live 12 years in that vegetative state.

Joan said, “Martin just kept going, just kept going.”

According to NPR, Martin’s father would wake up every day at 5 a.m., dress the boy, put him in the car and drive him to a special care center.

“Eight hours later, I’d pick him up, bathe him, feed him, put him in bed, set my alarm for two hours so that I’d wake up to turn him so that he didn’t get bedsores,” Rodney recalled.

And during those 12 years, according to the Pistorius family, there was never any indication that Martin’s condition was improving.

One day, Joan, in a state of hopelessness, told her son, “I hope you die.”

She never imagined that Martin would have understood those dreadful words.

Have you worked with a patient in a similar situation and thought perhaps he/she could hear and understand you? If so, what made you aware of it?

But by the time he was 14 or 15 years old, Martin began to awaken.

“Yes, I was there, not from the very beginning, but about two years into my vegetative state, I began to wake up,” Martin recalls. “I was aware of everything, just like any normal person. Everyone was so used to me not being there that they didn’t notice when I began to be present again. The stark reality hit me that I was going to spend the rest of my life like that – totally alone.”

Martin had even heard his mother’s cruel words.

“You don’t really think about anything,” he said. “You simply exist. It’s a very dark place to find yourself because, in a sense, you are allowing yourself to vanish.”

Martin added, “As time passed, I gradually learned to understand my mother’s desperation. Every time she looked at me, she could see only a cruel parody of the once-healthy child she had loved so much.”

At the care center every day, Martin’s caregivers played “Barney” reruns. They too believed he was a vegetable.

He said, “I cannot even express to you how much I hated Barney.”

Now Martin, 39, is in full control of his body. He’s married and lives a normal life in Harlow, England.

In his book “Ghost Boy,” he writes, “My mind was trapped inside a useless body, my arms and legs weren’t mine to control and my voice was mute. I couldn’t make a sign or sounds to let anyone know I’d become aware again. I was invisible – the ghost boy.”

Source: www.wnd.com

Topics: coma, illness, body, vegetative state, cryptococci meningitis, special care, unexplained, medical, hospital, treatment

6-year-old surfer girl won't let disease wipe out her serious skills

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Fri, Aug 29, 2014 @ 01:44 PM

By Jeffrey Donovan

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Nicknamed “The Flying Squirrel," 6-year-old Quincy Symonds is making waves not only for her incredible surfing skills, but also for her courage while coping with a genetic condition called congenital adrenal hyperplasia.

With a growing social-media following both on Instagram and YouTube, the Australian phenom might just be the best 6-year-old surfer in the world.

“I have never seen a surfer male or female this good at such an early age — and I’ve taught thousands of kids to surf,” her coach, Anthony Pope, told TODAY.com.

In March 2013, when Quincy was 4, she became fascinated by her father's love of surfing, and insisted on doing some of her own. Her mother, Kim Symonds, told TODAY.com it didn't take long for Quincy to find her balance on a surfboard.

“It was just the second or third wave she stood up on, which is apparently quite phenomenal,” she added. “Within a week, she was going across the waves and looking to make turns.”

From a coaching perspective, Pope admitted he had his doubts at the start of their first session, when they swam to 3-foot waves at the surf break known as Currumbin Alley.

"There were a lot of surfers looking at me like, 'You shouldn’t be out here with that tiny kid,'" he said. "However, after pushing her into a perfect 3-foot wave, she took off down the line, tearing the wave up. I was shocked, speechless and super excited. I knew immediately she was something very special."

Pope credits Quincy's success to her fearless nature, exceptional balance and a drive to catch the best wave.

Quincy started making international headlines this month, when Australian media outlet ABC Open featured her serious skills in a Vimeo video that's racked up almost 1 million views. In that video, her father, Jake Symonds, says he still can't believe what he's seeing. "I'm amazed by it," he said. "I'm really proud of it. But, to be honest, I can't comprehend how she does it, and how she's done it so quickly."

It's especially impressive given Quincy's medical condition. According to the Mayo Clinic, congenital adrenal hyperplasia limits adrenal glands' ability to make certain vital hormones. 

When Quincy was born, she spent many stints in the intensive-care unit of various hospitals. "On and off, we spent more time in a hospital than we spent at home," Kim Symonds told ABC Open.

The young surfer's health is more stable these days, but because her body doesn’t produce cortisone, she depends on three daily doses of steroids.

Because her illness means she'd require immediate medical care in the event of injury, “We keep emergency medication on hand always,” her mother told TODAY.com.

Despite her condition, Quincy seems fearless when she surfs or skateboards in her family’s hometown on Australia’s Gold Coast, north of Sydney.

That fearlessness led to her nickname, too.

According to ABC Open, when she was younger, she spotted a squirrel in a tree near her house and hopped off her father's SUV to mimic it. "The Flying Squirrel" was born.

As someone who's worked with pro surfers Owen Wright, Dion Agius and Stephanie Gilmore, Pope told TODAY.com he feels "privileged" to work with his young protégée.

"I feel like a better person just knowing Quincy," he said.

Source: http://www.today.com

Topics: child, illness, congenital adrenal hyperplasia, girl, surfing

Debilitating Case of Mosquito-borne Chikungunya Reported in U.S.

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Mon, Jul 21, 2014 @ 12:54 PM

By Val Willingham and Miriam Falco

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 (CNN) -- Chikungunya -- a tropical disease with a funny name that packs a wallop like having your bones crushed -- has finally taken up residence in the United States.

Ever since the first local transmission of chikungunya was reported in the Americas late last year, health officials have been bracing for the arrival of the debilitating, mosquito-borne virus in the United States. Just seven months after the first cases were found in the Caribbean, the Centers for Disease Control and Preventionreported the first locally acquired case of chikungunya in Florida.

Even though chikungunya is not on the National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System list, 31 states and two U.S. territories have reported cases of the disease since the beginning of the year. But only Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands reported locally acquired cases. All the other cases were travelers who were infected in countries where the virus was endemic and were diagnosed upon returning to the United States.

That ended Thursday, when the CDC reported a man in Florida, who had not recently traveled outside the country, came down with the illness.

As of right now, the Florida Department of Health confirmed there are at least two cases. One case is in Miami Dade County and the other is in Palm Beach County.

Its arrival did not surprise the chair of the Florida Keys Mosquito Control Board.

"It was just a matter of when. We are prepared in the Keys and have been prepared for some time to deal with chikungunya," Steve Smith said. "From what I am seeing, I'm sure there are more cases out there that we don't know about. It's really a matter of time."

The CDC is working closely with the Florida Department of Health to investigate how the patient came down with the virus. The CDC will also monitor for additional locally acquired U.S. cases in the coming weeks and months.

The virus, which can cause joint pain and arthritis-like symptoms, has been on the U.S. public health radar for some time.

Usually about 25 to 28 infected travelers bring it to the United States each year. But this new case represents the first time that mosquitoes themselves are thought to have transferred the disease within the continental United States

"The arrival of chikungunya virus, first in the tropical Americas and now in the United States, underscores the risks posed by this and other exotic pathogens," said Roger Nasci, chief of CDC's Arboviral Diseases Branch. "This emphasizes the importance of CDC's health security initiatives designed to maintain effective surveillance networks, diagnostic laboratories and mosquito control programs both in the United States and around the world."

The virus is not deadly, but it can be extremely painful, with symptoms lasting for weeks. Those with weak immune systems, such as the elderly, are more likely to suffer from the virus' side effects than those who are healthier. About 60% to 90% of those infected will have symptoms, says Nasci. People infected with chikungunya will often have severe joint pain, particularly in their hands and feet, and can also quickly get very high fevers.

The good news, said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious diseases expert with Vanderbilt University in Nashville, is that the United States is more sophisticated when it comes to controlling mosquitoes than many other nations and should be able to keep the problem under control.

"We live in a largely air-conditioned environment, and we have a lot of screening (window screens, porch screens)," Shaffner said. "So we can separate the humans from the mosquito population, but we cannot be completely be isolated."

Mosquito-borne virus worries CDC

Chikungunya was originally identified in East Africa in the 1950s. Then about 10 years ago, chikungunya spread to the Indian Ocean and India, and a few years later an outbreak in northern Italy sickened about 200 people. Now at least 74 countries plus the United States are reporting local transmission of the virus.

The ecological makeup of the United States supports the spread of an illness such as this, especially in the tropical areas of Florida and other Southern states, according to the CDC.

The other concern is the type of mosquito that carries the illness.

Unlike most mosquitoes that breed and prosper outside from dusk to dawn, the chikungunya virus is most often spread to people byAedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes, which are most active during the day, which makes it difficult to use the same chemical mosquito control measures.

These are the same mosquitoes that transmit the virus that causes dengue fever. The disease is transmitted from mosquito to human, human to mosquito and so forth. A female mosquito of this type lives three to four weeks and can bite someone every three to four days.

Shaffner and other health experts recommend people remember the mosquito-control basics:

-- Use bug spray if you are going out, especially in tropical or wooded areas near water.

-- Get rid of standing water in empty plastic pools, flower pots, pet dishes and gutters to eliminate mosquito breeding grounds.

-- Wear long sleeves and pants.

Source: www.cnn.com


Topics: US, virus, illness, mosquito, Chikungunya, spread, health, disease, CDC

The Top 10 Ways to Avoid Injuries and Illness at Your Nursing Job

Posted by Alycia Sullivan

Wed, Jul 10, 2013 @ 02:26 PM

By Debra Wood 

While among the most rewarding professions, nursing is not without its challenges. Nurses are exposed to numerous risks, sometimes with life-changing or life-ending consequences, such as nurses who died during the SARS outbreak or lost their lives falling asleep at the wheel after a long shift. Most adverse events are more mundane, but a back injury can end a career and a needlestick can pose serious health risks. 

To keep you healthy and safe, NurseZone.com queried a panel of experts who share this list of 10 reminders and tips on how to minimize the chance of nursing job-related injury or illness:

1. Clean your hands 

“Wash your hands to prevent illnesses’ spread,” said Arvella Battick, MSN, RN, PHN, an instructor at Everest College in Anaheim, Calif.

Jumi Harris: hand washing and using lift equipment avoids nurse injuries and illness.

When it comes to illnesses, my number one rule is to wash your hands, agreed Jumi Harris, MHA, MT (ASCP), manager of ancillary services at Levindale Hebrew Geriatric Center and Hospital. It “sounds very basic, but this is the best way to avoid getting sick.”

2. Use the lift and transfer equipment 

My number one way to avoid injuries on the job is to use lift devices instead of trying to lift a patient or resident manually, said Harris, adding, “Sometimes a nurse may think it’s too time consuming to get and use a lift or that the person is not too heavy. However it only takes one wrong move to injure yourself, so my advice is always use a lift device with the proper training and protocols.”

Renee Watson, RN, BSN, CPHQ, CIC, manager of infection prevention and epidemiology at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, added that nurses should use the appropriate equipment to lift anything heavy, such as soiled linen bags. 

3. Watch for hazards and practice good body mechanics 

Practice ergonomics and good body mechanics, suggested Watson. 

Battick recommended nurses watch for hazards and keep the environment free of clutter. If there’s something on the floor, pick it up. Don’t just step over it. 

Nurses should wear supportive shoes and watch for fall risks for themselves, not just their patients, advised Nick Angelis, CRNA, MSN, author of How to Succeed in Anesthesia School (And RN, PA, or Med School). Changing positions and muscle movements helps minimize pain and discomfort over time. Rotate tasks between hands, he added, and avoid hunching over to chart or care for a patient; elevate the patient’s bed, or, when documenting, find a place to sit or stand straight. 

4. Speak up and step up 

Whether dealing with a potentially violent patient or just needing a hand to move someone or something, ask a colleague for help. 

“It’s safer to transfer with two people,” said Battick, but she acknowledged that help is not always available. 

On the other hand, step up and offer your assistance to peers, as well.

5. Get vaccinated for the flu 

People working in hospitals, clinics and other care settings are at greater risk of acquiring the flu and of transmitting the disease to patients and peers.

Tanielle Sterling urges nurses to get vaccinated against the flu.

Influenza is a contagious disease that could spread by simply sneezing and coughing, explained Tanielle Sterling, MSN, NP, clinical program manager for employee health at The Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York. “Combating the myth of getting the flu through vaccination is the biggest challenge in improving compliance rates. By getting the flu vaccine, you protect yourself and may avoid spreading influenza to your patients, colleagues and your family.” 

6. Immunize against other pathogens 

Immunize the body and keep good immune health, advised Watson at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, which requires nurses stay current with hepatitis B, tetanus and diphtheria, the measles, mumps and rubella series and influenza vaccinations. 

“Hepatitis B infection is an occupational health hazard that is preventable by vaccination,” Sterling said. “All direct-care providers should be screened for hepatitis B surface antibody and offered the vaccine series. Education on the importance of completing the series and infection control practices helps to heighten awareness, change practice and attitudes towards vaccination.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends health care workers be vaccinated against the highly infectious hepatitis B, a bloodborne pathogen that can remain infectious on surfaces in the environment for at least a week. The vaccine produces a protective antibody response in more than 90 percent of people after the third dose. 

Healthcare workers born in 1957 or later without serologic evidence of immunity or prior vaccination should receive the measles, mumps and rubella series, varicella, and tetanus and diphtheria vaccines. 

7. Practice safe needle handling 

Do not recap needles, and use needless connection systems, advised Watson. 

Each year, hospital-based health care personnel experience 385,000 needlestick- and sharps-related injuries, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). This equates to an average of about 1,000 sharps injuries per day in U.S. hospitals.

Mary Foley: sharps injuries are a risk for those with nursing jobs.

Mary Foley, PhD, RN, chairperson of the Safe in Common campaign to prevent needlestick injuries, called it essential that nurses and other members of the health care industry work together to raise awareness of these types of injuries and find ways to prevent them in the future. 

“Nurses need to be sure that the safety mechanism on needlesticks is automatic and will not interfere with normal operating procedures and processes,” Foley said. “Activation of the safety mechanism should also not create additional occupational hazards or cause additional discomfort or harm to the patient. Perhaps most importantly, the used safety devices should provide convenient disposal and mitigate any risk of reuse or re-exposure of the nonsterile sharp. Following these rules will help to ensure that nurses are safe from the threat of needlestick injuries so that they can remain healthy and active for their patients.”

8. Don personal protective equipment (PPE) as appropriate 

Take no shortcuts when it comes to protection against bloodborne pathogens. Always select and wear the appropriate gloves, gowns, masks, eye protection and other items to prevent exposure to patients’ body fluids. Such equipment places a barrier between the hazard and the nurse. 

Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta promotes using PPEs when clinicians know or suspect the patient has a communicable disease. Watson advised, “If it’s not your wet, put something between you and it,” and “protect your eyes, nose and mouth from coughing.”

9. Get plenty of sleep 

Multiple studies, including “Fatigue, Performance and the Work Environment: A Survey of Registered Nurses,” published in the Journal of Advanced Nursing in 2011, from the University of Missouri in Columbia, have found that fatigue negatively influences nurse performance. 

In the book, Patient Safety and Quality: An Evidence-Based Handbook for Nurses, Ann E. Rogers, PhD, RN, FAAN, associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing in Philadelphia, warned that “in addition to jeopardizing patient safety, nurses who fail to obtain adequate amounts of sleep are also risking their own health and safety.” She pointed to the risk associated with drowsy driving, the increased chance of accidents of all sorts and that one’s immune system rarely works at peak performance when the body is tired. 

10. Practice good self-care 

Physical health requires overall wellness and staying strong, Watson said. Children’s in Atlanta promotes a holistic approach that includes daily exercise, good nutrition and fitness. It offers fitness classes and unit-based stretch breaks. Buddy coverage often is available for nurses who want to take a quick walk or class. Wellness includes obtaining psychosocial support when needed, particularly after dealing with emotionally taxing situations, such as participating in debriefings after traumatic incidents or seeking professional help through an employee assistance program. 

When you’re sick, stay home and rest, Battick added.  

Angelis recommended “exercising, packing nutrient dense foods for lunch; ingesting probiotics, either as supplements or in foods such as kefir or traditionally cultured vegetables; and staying well rested are all ways nurses can keep their immune systems in great shape against the barrage of germs that assault us daily.”

Source: Nurse Zone

© 2013. AMN Healthcare, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 

Topics: illness, injuries, health, nurse, clean, avoid

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DiversityNursing.com is a national “niche” website for Nurses from student nurses up to CNO’s. We are a Career Job Board, Community and Information Resource for all Nurses regardless of age, race, gender, religion, education, national origin, sexual orientation, disability or physical characteristics. 

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