Health and Safety at the Shadowing Site
We provide two training sessions to all participants in the DoctorsinItaly Fellowship about health and safety when shadowing a doctor. One session is held before departure, and the other is held after your arrival in Italy, before starting the shadowing experience. These sessions are designed to ensure that everyone is well-informed and prepared to follow the necessary safety guidelines while shadowing.
Different type of risks in the hospital setting
Medical and healthcare activities entail several generic hazards that may arise from exposure to various biological and chemical agents, radiation, as well as magnetic fields.
Contaminations and infections due to microorganisms, such as bacteria and viruses, pose significant threats to healthcare professionals, patients, and visitors.
Additionally, healthcare facilities may contain hazardous chemicals, including cytotoxic drugs, anesthetic gases, and cleaning agents, which can cause acute and chronic toxicity.
Exposure to ionizing radiation, used for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes, can increase the risk of cancer and genetic mutations. Magnetic fields, generated by medical devices, can induce electric currents in the body and affect the function of implanted devices, such as pacemakers.
Therefore, it is crucial to implement adequate safety measures to prevent and control these hazards in clinical settings.
Essential Rules to Follow When Shadowing at the Hospital
It’s important to stay safe and follow rules when you visit a hospital or when you are shadowing a healthcare worker. This is why we have some important rules for you to remember.
Follow Safety Signs and Instructions
Occupational health and safety is an essential aspect of any workplace, and hospitals are no exception. Hospitals have strict rules and regulations in place to ensure the safety of everyone in the building, including patients, visitors, and staff. One of the most important ways to maintain safety is by following signs and instructions that are posted throughout the hospital.
These signs and instructions can provide valuable information about potential hazards and how to avoid them.
It’s also important to listen to the guidance of hospital staff, especially when it comes to matters of occupational health. They are experts in their field and are well-versed in the potential hazards and risks associated with working in a hospital setting. They can provide valuable information on how to stay safe and prevent accidents, as well as what to do in the event of an emergency.
Ignoring signs, instructions, or guidance from hospital staff can lead to serious consequences. For example, failing to follow proper hygiene protocols can lead to the spread of infections and illnesses, putting patients, staff, and visitors at risk. Similarly, ignoring warnings about hazardous substances or equipment can result in serious injuries or even death.
In addition to following signs and instructions, it’s also important to be proactive about your own safety. This means taking steps to prevent accidents and minimize risks. For example, wearing appropriate clothing and personal protective equipment, such as gloves, masks, and gowns, can help reduce the risk of exposure to harmful substances or infections.
Always ask before going into places where people are getting medical help
This means that it is important to ask for permission or clearance from the responsible personnel before entering any areas where medical procedures or treatments are being performed. This is to ensure the safety and privacy of both the patients and healthcare professionals, and to prevent any disruptions or interference in the ongoing medical procedures. Unauthorized entry may lead to various safety hazards, and may also be considered a violation of hospital policies and regulations. Therefore, it is crucial to follow this rule to maintain a safe and secure environment within the healthcare facility.
Don't Get Close to Hazardous Substances Without Permission
You should never use any hazardous substances or equipment without permission. This means things that can be dangerous, like chemicals or sharp objects.
Smoking is not allowed anywhere in the hospital. This means you can’t smoke in the building, outside near the building, or even in a car if it’s parked in the hospital parking lot.
If you need to smoke, you’ll need to leave the hospital area and find a place where it’s allowed.
Only Use Authorized Equipment and Facilities
You should only use equipment and facilities that the hospital has given you permission to use. This will help prevent accidents or injuries.
Don't Remove or Damage Safety Devices
There are devices in the hospital that help keep everyone safe. You should never remove, damage, or change these devices. If you notice something wrong with them, you should tell someone who works at the hospital right away.
Report Any Problems
If you see something that doesn’t look right or if something is broken, you should tell someone who works at the hospital. This will help keep everyone safe.
Keep Emergency Exits Clear
Emergency exits are really important because they help people get out of the building quickly and safely in case of an emergency. You should never block or partially block emergency exits or escape routes. This means you shouldn’t put anything in front of them or stand in front of them.
Real-Life Examples of Occupational Health Risks Faced by Shadowing Students at Hospitals
Case Study 1: Hospital-acquired infection
Mary is a pre-nursing student from Connecticut who is excited to begin her clinical rotation at a hospital.
She spends a lot of time interacting with patients, but often forgets to wash her hands before and after each interaction.
One day, Mary starts to feel sick and is diagnosed with a hospital-acquired infection. She had unknowingly exposed herself to germs and bacteria that were prevalent in the hospital environment.
Mary had to take time off from her clinical rotation to recover from her illness.
Lesson Learned: Always practice good hand hygiene to prevent the spread of infections and protect yourself from occupational health risks.
Case Study 2: Needlestick injury
John is a pre-medical student who is shadowing a doctor in the emergency department.
While observing the doctor treating a patient, John gets too close and pricks his finger with a used needle that the doctor was using.
He immediately informs the doctor and is taken to the hospital’s employee health services.
John undergoes testing for infectious diseases, and is advised to monitor his health for several months.
The incident has left John worried about his health and anxious about the possibility of future needlestick injuries.
Lesson Learned: Even as a pre-medical student observing medical procedures, it is important to be aware of potential risks and to always listen to the instructions of healthcare workers and avoid contact with any hazardous substances to prevent exposure and potential harm to your health.
The following three rules can help ensure your safety while shadowing at the hospital:
By paying close attention to safety signs, following instructions from staff members, and being mindful of potential hazards in the environment you’re doing your part to stay safe and healthy, and you’ll be helping to create a safer workplace for everyone.