Stericycle recently released its second annual Healthcare Workplace Safety Trend Report [link to landing page] revealing crucial insights into healthcare workers’ perspectives on health and safety in their work environments. The study aimed to better understand healthcare providers’ and administrators’ perspectives to help healthcare organizations improve safety standards as well as create a quality care environment for providers and their patients.
Industry growth and the changing landscape of infectious diseases is driving a significant transformation of healthcare, while creating new challenges to overcome. The key findings of the report found healthcare providers are responding with an increased desire for more training, tools and resources around regulated and pharmaceutical waste management (79%, up from 56% in 2021), at-home care disposal (91%), and managing difficult patients (72%). Both providers and administrators also see a clear connection between sustainable environmental practices and the overall health of the community and positive patient outcomes. Nine in ten (94%) healthcare providers and administrators believe improper medical waste disposal greatly impacts patient health and safety and puts the physical safety of providers at risk – a 23% increase from 2021.
“Healthcare organizations are facing immense challenges when it comes to understanding how to best protect the health and well-being of their patients and staff. Recent public health emergencies from COVID-19 and other infectious diseases have only intensified issues facing the healthcare industry, including increasing workloads, longer hours, and less staff,” said Cory White, Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer at Stericycle. “Our findings emphasize our belief that creating an ecosystem of care that nurtures and prioritizes patient and provider health, community health, and environmental health will help lessen these industry challenges and define the future of healthcare.”
The study surveyed more than 500 healthcare professionals—including both healthcare practitioners (those who have direct patient interaction and currently practice as a physician, nurse, or another related role) and administrators (those who are currently at an executive leadership or senior management level in a healthcare organization). Here are some of the key findings of the report:
- Healthcare Professionals Remain Stressed and Burnt-out: While stress levels decreased from 2021, they remain high with nearly three in five providers (58%) still noting their day-to-day stress level has worsened in the past year, citing increasing workloads, longer hours, and decreasing staff as the largest stress contributors. More than a quarter feel unmotivated (34%), have trouble concentrating (28%), and are concerned about their physical safety (25%).
- Effective Healthcare Environments Require Medical Waste Management: Both providers (93%) and administrators (84%) agree that medical waste management is important to delivering the best possible care to patients. The majority of providers (94%) also stated that improper regulated medical/biohazardous waste disposal puts the physical safety of healthcare workers at risk, an increase of 12% from 2021.
- Waste Challenges of At-Home Care: Providers (69%) and administrators (78%) agree that there are not enough standards in place to safely remove medical waste from at-home care. Nearly six in ten providers say patients do not know how to dispose of medical waste safely (59%, up from 26% in 2021), nor do they have adequate tools and resources available (58%, up from 37% in 2021) in at-home care settings. Almost all providers (91%) agree that they need additional training to uphold safe working conditions in at-home care settings.
- Medical Waste Critically Impacts Communities: 95% of healthcare providers and administrators agree that improper medical and biohazardous waste management is harmful to the environment, and more than half of providers (56%) and administrators (67%) reported they think about the environmental impacts of regulated medical and biohazardous waste often. This environmental and community concern includes drug diversion, where 53% of providers agree that improperly disposed of pharmaceutical waste is one of the biggest contributors to the opioid epidemic.
- The Future of Healthcare Lies in Home Care: While most healthcare providers (90%) expect the rate of at-home care to increase over the next five years, they are concerned about their risks to physical health and well-being (75%). Those concerns include sanitation (53%), availability of resources (52%), and their own safety in at-home care settings (50%).
For more of our findings about the safety of the healthcare workplace, read the full report here.