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Helping nursing assistants stay healthy is good for everyone

When patients arrive for medical care, managing their acute injury or illness is far from a nurses' only concern. A nurse knows that the potential for their own injury or illness while providing care is a clear and present danger, but the dangers often go unrecognized.

While it's not amongst the list of deadliest jobs, nurses are more likely to be injured than other professions. There are, however, certain practices that can help nurses avoid becoming the patient:

Top 10 safety tips for nurses, according to American Mobile

1. Clean your hands

2. Use the lift and transfer equipment

3. Watch for hazards and practice good body mechanics

4. Speak up and step up

5. Get vaccinated for the flu

6. Immunize against other pathogens

7. Practice safe needle handling

8. Don personal protective equipment (PPE) as appropriate

9. Get plenty of sleep

10. Practice good self-care

Within the field of nursing, the most common injury is to the back as a result of moving a patient. Nursing assistants are typically the ones doing the moving and are therefore most likely to become the patient. According to the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, nursing assistants, who make up the largest share of healthcare workers, provide 80-90% of direct patient care to nursing home residents.

While performing the most dangerous tasks such as bathing, toileting, dressing, moving, transferring or repositioning patients, management should encourage nurses to take their time. Unfortunately, there is never enough time.

How nursing assistants can stay safe

· Practice proper ergonomics and lifting techniques

· Exercise for better trunk stability

· Talk to management about injury reduction training

· Use assisting equipment

· Wear shock absorbent shoes

With the older baby boomers nearing their eighties, the need for nursing assistants is only going to increase. Improving safety conditions for these workers is an important step in the future of healthcare.

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