Employment decisions affected by health, safety

According to a recent survey conducted by the Washington, DC-based American Nurses Association (ANA), health and safety concerns play a major role in America’s registered nurses’ decisions to remain in the profession. In the survey, 88% of respondents said health and safety concerns influence their decisions to continue working in the field, as well as the kind of nursing work they choose to perform. The acute and chronic affects of stress and overwork were cited as one of the top three health and safety concerns by 70.5% of nurses responding to the survey.

"Nurses are continuously asked to do more with less," says ANA president Mary Foley, MS, RN. "Patients will not get the type of care they deserve when nurses are stressed, overworked and concerned for their own health and safety."

The other top health and safety concerns reported by respondents included a disabling back injury (60%) and contracting HIV or hepatitis from a needle stick injury (45%). Other responses that garnered double-digit percentages were: the possibilities of being infected with tuberculosis or another disease (37%), sustaining and on-the-job assault (25%), developing a latex allergy (21%), and having a fatigue- related car accident after a shift (18.8%).

A total of 4,826 nurses responded to the survey, with the highest percentage of respondents falling between the ages of 41 and 50, with more than 10 years of experience.

Survey responses also revealed that fewer than 20% of the nurses felt safe in their current work environment. A total of 17% reported they had been physically assaulted in the past year, and more than half (56.6%) were threatened or experienced verbal abuse. And, while the implementation of federal law to require the use of safer needle devices has made a significant impact, 20% of the nurse respondents said that their facilities still do not provide safe needle devices for injections. An even greater percentage (39%) confirmed that their facilities continue to use powdered latex gloves, a hazard known to cause severe allergic reactions in patients and workers with latex allergies.

[For more information, contact: Hope Hall. Telephone: (202) 651-7027. Or visit the ANA web site: www.nursingworld.org.]