Doctor’s Day 2020: Strengthening Safety Measures for Nurses during COVID-19

Updated: Jul 01, 2020 10:55 AM

Superheroes of today, COVID warriors, are the healthcare workers on the frontline of managing the outbreak that has crippled healthcare systems around the world.

Doctors Day 2020, covid warriors, healthcare workers, frontline workers, covid 19 cases in india, COVID-19 patients, safety measures for nurses, coronavirus pandemicAs healthcare professionals work closely with COVID-19 patients on a daily basis, it is important that their hygiene is taken care of. (IE photo)

By Dr. Dhirja Sharma

Doctor’s Day 2020: Superheroes of today, COVID warriors, are the healthcare workers on the frontline of managing the outbreak that has crippled healthcare systems around the world. Oftentimes, they endanger their own lives to save others. In a laudable move, the Indian government, in its pledge to safeguard the healthcare workers, made physical attacks on them a non-bailable offence under the Epidemic Diseases (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020. However, the next and a more critical level of protection that the healthcare workers need is from the pandemic itself. Occupational burnout, psychological distress, exposure to pathogens, long working hours and fatigue are already impacting the health of workers on the frontline. With a rise in the number of doctors, nurses and patient-care workers already contracting the virus, we need to ensure that proper precautions are being taken for their safety.

In many hospitals round the globe, healthcare workers are suffering due to paucity of even the basic necessities like masks, isolation gowns, face shields, testing kits and more. What we need the most at this time is to ensure that they receive high-quality safety gears along with the advanced and latest technologies to deal with Novel CoronaVirus disease.

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As healthcare professionals work closely with COVID-19 patients on a daily basis, it is important that their hygiene is taken care of. Simple things like running water and soap at each nursing station and ward, hand sanitizer stands, clearly demarcated donning and doffing area are a must. Optimum levels of safety procedures should be followed— cleaning and disinfection of equipment, patient surroundings and appropriate use of masks, gloves and other personal protective equipment. Apart from these basic safety protocols, use of safe insulin practices, auto- disable syringes and safe waste management can go a long way in ensuring workers’ safety. Institutional infection prevention control practices must also be followed. The use of advanced tools during sample collection and treatment of confirmed COVID-19 cases will reduce the chances of healthcare workers getting infected and leading to further transmission.

It is crucial that our nurses are introduced to guidelines like IPC precautions, specimen collection and surface disinfection procedures, policy on no reuse of single-use devices and implementation of latest technologies like needleless IV connection devices, blunt medication needles etc to ensure their safety.

Additionally, our nurses should be well-trained to handle a situation like a pandemic and equipped with concrete knowledge on how they can take care of their physical, mental and spiritual health at a time like this with regular training and sessions. Hospitals and nursing leaders must step in to provide point of care guidance and counselling.

As the deadly pandemic takes an alarming number of health workers under its fold, it is important to turn to advanced infection control procedures and tools to raise the bar on safety. Since the virus is spreading from close proximity to an affected person, it becomes even more critical to ensure that frontline workers including nurses and doctors have all the necessary tools and equipment to keep them safe.

After all, they are the backbone of the healthcare delivery system fighting the pandemic and it is of utmost importance that they be equipped with the best practices and tools to stay safe.

The columnist is Vice President -Head Nursing & ER Services, Max Healthcare. Views expressed are the author’s own.

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