A key part of a positive healthcare experience is feeling safe in the healthcare facility. This can improve overall worker satisfaction, as well as patient satisfaction. Engaging in practices that reduce risk during the provision of care can go a long way toward making the healthcare environment feel safe. Here are some important things staff should do:
Engage in proper use of PPE. Proper use of engineering controls and personal protective equipment (PPE) is an important step in ensuring a safe and healthy workplace. Without protective safety controls, the higher the risk of an injury or illness in the healthcare setting.
Practice safe handling of sharps. Staff should know how to correctly use and dispose of sharp instruments, such as needles and syringes, to limit the likelihood of needlestick injuries and prevent exposure to bloodborne pathogens. An essential element of sharps safety is proper disposal, as one of the most common times for accidental needlesticks to occur is during disposal. Reducing safety risk during disposal entails using leak-proof, puncture-resistant sharps containers that are ergonomically designed to safely house discarded sharps.
Properly dispose of unused medications. After administering drugs, if there are any leftover doses, staff should properly dispose of them. At no time should an employee flush unused medication down the sink or toilet. Sewer disposal of hazardous waste pharmaceuticals is banned by the EPA. For wastage generated during the administration of prescription painkillers and other opioids, organizations should use specially designed waste containers that include a substance that deactivates the controlled drug wastage on contact. These containers can ensure safe disposal of controlled substance waste while limiting the risk of drug diversion and theft after disposal. Further, if patients are taking medications home, staff should educate them on how to properly dispose of unused or leftover doses.
Regularly empty waste containers. All medical waste containers in clinical areas should be emptied in a timely manner to prevent overflow. To ensure that waste is handled in a timely fashion without burdening staff, organizations may want to work with an experienced waste management company like Stericycle to pick up used containers on a defined schedule and replace them with clean, empty ones.
Is your facility at risk?
In order to determine whether there are safety risk areas at your facility, it is beneficial to conduct a workplace hazard assessment. A workplace hazard assessment includes a walkthrough of your facility while keeping an eye out for potential safety risks. For example, if a sharps container was located too far away from the area where sharps are being generated, this would be identified as a hazard. The further an employee must walk to dispose of the sharp, the higher the likelihood of an accidental needlestick.