Doctors and nurses save lives of people daily in hospitals. But they are the same people who are majorly at occupational risks every day while dealing with different kinds of patients. These occupational risks for doctors are either ignored by society or government or not taken seriously. This happens because there is a lack of awareness regarding the severity of the risks and the absence of protective equipment, security and supportive society, laws, and surveillance in most of the health institutions and hospitals globally.
Working as a doctor and nurse is not that easy. They come in contact with various unknown diseases and mentally and aggressive patients. The reason for these occupational risks for doctors since ages is because medical students are not taught ways to handle or given information about such risks. So doctors continue to care for patients as the “things” just happen and the profession is blamed upon.
The American National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) identified 29 types of physical, 25 types of chemical, 24 types of biological, 10, and 6 types of ergonomic and psychosocial occupational risks for health professionals and doctors.
Health professionals and doctors are exposed to ionizing and nonionizing radiation, noise. If these all things are not properly administrated they can cause physical harm to doctors and nurses such as burns, cataracts, infertility, genetic disorders. Also, the condition of the hospitals such as disposal systems of harmful medical things, ventilation, indoor pollution is important for the health protection of both doctors and patients.
Doctors treat and diagnose patients using different medicines that have lots of chemicals, disinfectants to anesthetic agents, cytotoxic agents, drugs, and some heavy metals such as mercury and latex (sometimes in high amount) in them. The long-term and continuous exposure to such substances as well as during the time of their preparation, administration, and disposal in laboratories can have severe effects on the body.
Tuberculosis, measles, rubella, chickenpox, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), influenza, meningococcal and pneumococcal infections can be transmitted through droplets and droplet cores via respiratory secretions of patients. Resistant bacteria and skin parasites such as scabies can be transmitted through direct skin contact.
A severe state of burnout can lead to problems such as resignation, marriage, and family incompatibility, decreased self-esteem, difficulty concentrating, and social isolation. Violence, which is more and more affecting lots of doctors and nurses is a major problem in many health organizations and health institutions. Because doctors and nurses contact directly with individuals having problems, they are the most important target and victim of occupational violence among all professions. And they bear it all only due to the “deteriorated health status” of patients.
Physicians, nurses, and healthcare staff get sick, injured, disabled, or maybe taken to court or abused even though they care for the patients in the best way. There is a need to implement occupational health safety in all health organizations and the allocation of occupational health safety.