Health Risks In Health Care

african american woman with stressed expression(BlackDoctor.org) — Occupational hazards occur in most every area of employment, and nurses, doctors and other health workers are no exception. Those on the front lines of health care face a multitude of risks every day. The following article details just some of the common risks faced by those who deliver America’s medical care.

Latex Allergy

Latex has been ubiquitous in the health care industry for decades. This pliable and useful material is used to manufacture tubing, oxygen masks, gloves, and a wide variety of products used in the delivery of medical and nursing care. Latex proteins leach into the skin of health care workers, and can also enter the respiratory tract in the form of airborne latex powder. Symptoms of latex allergy, which can develop over a period of time, include generalized skin reaction, respiratory symptoms, and even anaphylactic shock. Avoidance of latex and the use of alternatives to latex are highly recommended. While many health care facilities have adopted this practice, some products may be more difficult to procure in non-latex form. Unfortunately, allergic reactions to vinyl, a material often used in lieu of latex, are also becoming more commonplace.

Environmental Hazards

Nurses and other health care workers are potentially exposed to a number of environmental hazards due to the nature of medical waste. Examples of these hazards include mercury and dioxin (a known carcinogen found in most plastics). Exposure to these materials (and others) can lead to birth defects, infertility, and a number of other health conditions and illnesses.