A problem in nursing that still needs to studied is the prevention of blood and body fluid (BBF) exposures. An article in American Nurse Today by (Mitchell & Parker, 2015) reveals that 49% of all BBF exposures happen to nurses with 48.6% of these occurring at bedside or in the patient’s room. The ICU and ED were second and third. The BBF accounted for did not just come from the patient but also IV leaking tubing/bags, feeding and ventilator tubing breaking or spilling, indwelling catheters, wound irrigations and even broken gloves. The most prevalent exposure was urine at 90.2%. Blood 67.9%, other fluids 18.6% and sputum 12.4% followed respectively. The eyes had the highest exposure at 62.4% followed by intact skin at 39.9% and non-intact skin at 13.5%. So, with all these statistics, with high numbers, I find it very alarming that BBF prevention is still not getting much attention. Sure, accidents happen but the least the hospitals can do is implement the use of better quality gloves and eye shields and masks should be stocked in all rooms and not just the contact carts. Perhaps better medical devices that are resistant to penetration would suffice as well.
If I am wrong, please share your thoughts. Although I know there may be hospitals that are already implementing better BBP prevention methods.
Nursing research is used to study both dilemmas and problems. A dilemma that is frequently seen is staff to patient ratios that are not equal to work load and that can turn a nurses response to be overworked leading to compassion fatigue. Nurses may experience compassion fatigue, which is the combination of burnout, psychological and physiological responses to prolonged chronic emotional and interpersonal stressors and secondary traumatic stress (STS), which is health care workers’ responses to vicarious exposure to trauma arising from treating patients who have directly experienced traumatic or extremely stressful events (Kelly & Todd, 2017). High intensity environments with poor staffing are seen in the area I work in. Right now we are offering incentive pay to pick up extra shifts. Due to the stress and poor staffing ratios, no one seems eager to pick up. The motivation behind the lack of effort is due to stress, not getting breaks, insufficient support and lack of patient empathy.
I believe compassion fatigue should be studied more in the health care setting because it can have major consequences for nurses, the healthcare organizations itself and the outcomes of the patients healing process with teaching and care. We have a large turnover on our floor due to it is a hard unit to work on. Being a surgery floor it is constant admits and discharges and we at times have the support staff of a admit nurse on duty to help out. Labor is stretch with nurses having five to six patients at times which is a real concern in my opinion for safety. Healthier work environments have relatively better communication, collaboration, safety, and patient satisfaction. I believe that more research into compassion fatigue could help not only with patient satisfaction but helping nurses feel like they are helping others and want to continue with the practice they are in.