Safety primer targets frontline nurse staff

What nurses need to know about safety

Don't you wish nurses knew how to care for themselves as well as they do their patients?

Deborah Fell-Carlson, RN, MSPH, COHN-S, HEM, a long-time occupational health nurse who works for a workers' compensation insurer in Lebanon, OR, has compiled a primer to educate staff nurses about the basics, from job hazard analysis to hazardous chemicals, needle safety to safe patient handling.

Working Safety in Health Care: A Practical Guide (Delmar Cengage Learning, $44.95) tells frontline caregivers what they need to know to stay safe. Written by experts in occupational health, the book has a companion quick-reference guide and training manual.

Fell-Carlson recalls when she became an employee health nurse at an Oregon hospital after a stint as an occupational health nurse for the National Guard. She was surprised to find few safety resources and little awareness of safety issues at the hospital.

Fell-Carson wrote a chapter for a nursing text on employee health and, when it was published, it was illustrated with a photo of a nurse wearing a respirator improperly. Then caption called it a surgical mask.

She realized that nursing students need better health and safety resources — and so do frontline nurses.

"You are never going to achieve the goal of patient safety if the caregiver doesn't first know how to make their own work environment safe," Fell-Carson says. "That environment of patient care is inside the environment of work. If the environment of work is not safe, the care environment is not going to be safe."

The book covers a wide range of issues, including wellness and stress management, workplace violence, infection control, respiratory protection, and emergency management.