Hospital employee issues related to health were discussed. Hospital employees are exposed to a number of occupational hazards, many of which are similar to those found in industrial workplaces. Hazards unique to hospital environments include exposures to infectious bacterial and viral agents, drugs, anesthetic gases, and radiation. Physical injuries were discussed. Hospital acquired penetrating contacts (needle stick injuries) are the most frequently occurring class of physical injury. Needle sticks can result in transmitting hepatitis-B or other viruses. Many physical injuries result from lifting and moving patients. Burns and scalds from sterilizers are also a source of physical injury. Chemical hazards were discussed. Handwashing is considered the most important procedure for preventing infections in hospitalized patients; however, washing with antiseptic agents frequently results in dry skin and dermatitis. Common chemical exposures in hospitals include formaldehyde (50000) used in sterilizing machines in dialysis units, ethylene-oxide (75218) used in sterilizing equipment and medical supplies, and waste anesthetic gases. Microbiological hazards include hepatitis-B, tuberculosis, infectious childhood diseases, herpes viruses, and cytomegalovirus. Recommended practices for minimizing the risk of exposure to microbiological agents were listed. Ionizing radiation hazards were discussed. Methods for limiting exposure to X-rays and radioactive materials used in nuclear medicine were described. Job stress was discussed. Sources of stress for nurses, especially those serving in intensive care units (ICUs), include unrealistic self expectations, strenuous work loads, communication problems with physicians and administrators, guilt about negative feelings toward patients, and difficulty in dealing with death. Coping with stress in the hospital setting was discussed. Group therapy systems have been found to be of value in helping ICU nurses cope with stress.
Proceedings of the National Occupational Health Nursing Symposium: State of the Art and Directions for the Future, Cincinnati, Ohio, June 1-3, 1983