Healthcare Worker Standards for Safety
In Australia and around the world, healthcare workers are expected to comply with a set of safety standards to protect patients and staff from the risk of infection. These standards form the foundation for preventing the spread of disease and protecting everyone in hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare settings.
The standard precautions promote safe practices that involve protecting against contact with blood and body fluids, wearing personal protective equipment, and proper hand hygiene. These safety measures are used for every patient in a healthcare setting and help to protect against the spread of infections.
Healthcare workers must also be aware of additional precautions that may need to be taken when caring for patients who are known or suspected to have an infectious disease or condition such as HIV, tuberculosis, or hepatitis. Healthcare workers must wear the appropriate protective gear, such as gloves and gowns when caring for these patients.
In addition to safety precautions taken by healthcare workers, patients can also practice safe healthcare habits at home. Patients should wash their hands frequently and avoid sharing personal items such as toothbrushes and razors with others. They should also take care to properly dispose of used needles and syringes, if applicable. Patients should always inform their healthcare providers of any known allergies or diseases to ensure proper precautions are taken.
Additionally, if a patient is feeling ill, they should seek prompt medical attention and inform their healthcare provider of any potential risks or exposures. This will help ensure the provider can take proper safety measures to protect both patient and healthcare worker from any potential harm.
Across all medical professions, hand hygiene is an essential component of safety protocols. Healthcare workers should always wash their hands thoroughly with warm soapy water before beginning any patient care activity. Hand hygiene should also be performed between patients, especially if there is potential for cross-contamination from one patient to another.
To Learn To Wash Hands, we recommend an online course. Typically, these courses will explain the importance of hand hygiene, give best practice tips for optimal technique, and provide a test after completion to confirm successful learning. For example, one may show a short video explaining the proper way to wash their hands and then have questions where they identify when hand hygiene should be performed.
Why is washing hands important? Handwashing helps protect healthcare workers and patients from the spread of infectious diseases. It is one of the most effective measures for preventing infections and has been cited by the World Health Organization as a key step in reducing healthcare-associated infections. To ensure that healthcare workers are practicing safe and appropriate hand hygiene, it is important to follow the healthcare worker’s standard precautions.
Some tips for effective hand washing include:
- Wet your hands with water
- Apply soap and lather for at least 20 seconds, making sure to rub hands together and in between fingers
- Rinse hands under running water
- Dry hands with a clean towel or air dryer
- Use alcohol-based hand sanitiser when soap and water are not available
It is also important to ensure that healthcare workers are following the correct guidelines for donning and doffing personal protective equipment (PPE), as well as disposing of used PPE appropriately. With a proactive approach, healthcare workers are more likely to follow these safety measures.
When using PPE, the following steps should be taken:
- Wear a face mask
- Put on disposable gloves
- Wear a gown or apron
- Avoid contaminating the outside of the PPE with any part of the body
- Carefully remove and dispose of PPE after use
Healthcare workers must follow these safety precautions at all times to protect themselves, patients and their community. A safe work environment is essential in protecting healthcare workers from potential risks!
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