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Staying Safe in the Hospital

by Lori Hehn - Dec 29, 2015 8:00:00 AM
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We tend to forget about many of the safety issues we face on a daily basis in the workplace. This is a quick review on important safety procedures in veterinary practice.

Hazards cannot totally be avoided, but minimizing exposure and being diligent about safety is the ultimate goal. All hospitals are required to follow OSHA standards.

What is OSHA?

The Occupational Safety and Health Act is part of the Department of Labor. It was established to "assure safe and healthful working conditions for working individuals by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education and assistance." For more information visit:

  1. Wear close-toed shoes with skid-resistant soles to prevent injury.
  2. Do not lift patients over 40 pounds by yourself. Those that have back issues should follow the advice of their physician and should try to avoid heavy lifting all together.
  3. If there is a spill or if an area seems cluttered, clean it up. Throw trash away and keep the hospital clean and organized.
  4. Use an appropriate step-stool to reach things high on the shelf. Never climb on counters and always keep heavier equipment on lower shelves.
  5. Frequently wash your hands, and never eat in an area in which chemicals or pets are handled. Food should be kept in a separate refrigerator and not where lab specimens or drugs are kept.
  6. Know evacuation protocol for fires and your role in evacuating hospitalized patients should this occur.
  7. All chemicals (including cleaners, pesticides, drugs, radiology fluids, etc. ) must be properly labeled according to OSHA guidelines.
  8. Be aware of zoonotic diseases you may encounter. These are diseases that may be transmitted to humans, such as dermatophytes, Leptospirosis, Rabies, some intestinal parasites, and others.
  9. During radiographs, make sure to wear your radiology lead apron, thyroid protector, and gloves. Never put your hand near the beam EVEN WHEN YOU HAVE GLOVES ON! Be aware of "ALARA"- as low are reasonably achievable. This means that if only 1 technician is needed for x-rays, don't have 2 techs doing x-rays. Always avoid unnecessary exposure. Obviously pregnant technicians should never perform x-rays or be near the x-ray station.
  10. Always wear a mask/goggles or shield and gloves when performing dental cleanings. You don't want to breath in those nasty bacterial particles you are cleaning from the teeth!
  11. Frequently leak check the anesthetic gas machine to avoid unnecessary gas exposure and also to ensure patient safety.
  12. Properly dispose of medical waste and sharps in their designated containers.
  13. If you ever have any questions about safety concerns, talk to your supervisor. It is always best to be safe. There are never any stupid questions when it comes to safety!!!

About Lori Hehn

Lori Hehn is a practicing veterinarian and a contributor and content manager with XPrep Learning Solutions. She has a drive for continual learning and enjoys interacting with veterinary and vet tech students. She also writes veterinary learning books for children.

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