21 occupational Risks to doctors and nurses, while performing their duties


 

Doctor save the patient, but save yourself also.

Working of a doctor and nurses is not free from risk to themselves. The risk is generally underestimated, although it often involves major  risk  to life and may be frightening. Problem is that  majority of people, society and governing bodies  and even doctors themselves do not perceive or acknowledge it many times  the risks seriously.  But since  these risks are increasing exponentially everyday, because of changing scenario, they should be known to students, who want to take medicine as a profession. They need to take an informed decision. There are lesser set procedures, lack of awareness, not protective equipment or supportive society, governance and  laws, at most of  the places globally, and  doctors continue to work  in danger zones. These risks can be of varied types. Contracting the diseases is just one of them.

Even when doctors and nurses contact the diseases, there may or may not be proper support for further treatment, compensation and rehabilitation. Most of the time, they  have to fend for themselves. Because quite many of them , in government and private sector work on adhoc basis, temporary posts and on contract. Doctors  may have following risks, readers can add, if I have missed few:

Occupational health hazards

1.Tuberculosis: Common among health care  workers

2.Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C

3.HIV

  1. Influenza, Swine flu and other viruses of similar type.

5.Chicken pox

6.Rabies

7.Patients some times comes with unknown viral illnesses, which can not be tested. At the time, when treatment is going on, even diagnosis is not known. Doctor can contract these bacteria or viruses. There can be many more.

 

Risks related to stress and overwork

8.Depression, suicide, hopelessness

  1. Burnout.

10.Restricted social life

11.prone to alcohol/ drug abuse/ drug exposure.

Stress of balancing Family life: Kind of work and night duties effect family life very adversely. 12. Specially  female doctors. Completing  family will effect their careers, most of time.

13.High rates of divorces

14.Stress related diseases

 

15.Life style diseases: mainly sedentary work and long hours of working, makes them prone to life style diseases like ischemic heart disease , hypertension etc.

16.Exposure to radiations: specially in radiology and oncology. female doctors are more affected.

17.Lack of exposure to sunlight: effects bones , deficiency of vit D and predisposes to depression

 

  1.   Risk of catching resistant infections and sometimes there is risk that they carry these deadly bacteria to their homes. So their family members and children are at risk.
  2.   Risk of  working in disaster area and transport of sick , floods, earthquakes. Accidents of    ambulances .
  3.   Change in natural bio flora  of doctors and nurses. It is replaced by hospital bio flora. If they get infection, it is difficult to treat.
  4.  Risks because of legal problems and violent patients:  adds to stress Patients may not have favourable prognosis. But it is common for doctors to be blamed  even for naturally poor prognosis of the  disease. Legal trouble adds to further stress.

    –verbal abuse and threatening is very common. So spoiled mood unnecessarily.

– fear of  physical   assault can really harm doctors and family members.

– excessive and unilateral regulation puts doctors at the receiving end of the discontent.

Worst part is that our systems are not defined to prevent, treat or compensate or even acknowledge for these big disasters, if it happens to healers. These problems are not known to students, when they decide to take medicine, nor they are taught in medical school. Most of the time they have to fend for themselves, if problems occur.

Administrators and regulators refrain to study data that would establish and quantify the occupational hazards of being a doctor and nurses. Some of these hazards may be known, but there is no comprehensive analysis of workplace risk for physicians and nurses, like those that have been done for other professions. As physicians, we have a sense of the risk, and yet we remain engaged, continuing to care for our patients as we know  “these things” happen. Perhaps society prefers to remain blissfully ignorant of the sacrifice and risk their doctors take on, comforted by the fantasy of the serene  hospital. Perhaps we  all despise to let reality and data shatter the illusion.

Everyday globally, the doctors and the nurses  greet the new day and return to their work of taking care of their patients, knowing well the risk  involved.

Maybe it is time that we are little more aware  and acknowledge that even doing everything in best manner and honestly , we are in a  conflict zone and  we are all in harm’s way. Just be careful and be mindful that  doctors, nurses, and healthcare workers,  may get  sickened, injured, disabled, or can be dragged to court or harassed even  as they care for their patients in best manner.

Doctor save the patient, but save yourself also.

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