Safe Cleaning of Bedpans, etc.?

  1. After my first two days working as a nurse assistant on a med-surg unit, I got very sick with what seems to me to be gastroenteritis ---my symptoms included: diarrhea, vomiting, chills, fever, aching joints (to where I wanted to jerk them constantly), aches and pains all over, headache, light and sound sensitivity, weakness (going to the bathroom, much less the kitchen was a major event). Sometimes my joints tingled.

    At first, I thought it was the flu, but so far I have had no upper respiratory involvement. My chest hurts (and has the whole time)...

    Anyway, I think I got it as I was cleaning up many folks' diarrhea and vomit with these shower like devices just above the toilets. I think I must have aerosolized some of the microbes with the shower device and absorbed them into my mucous membranes. I had been dumping the majority of the contents, but after seeing my trainer add water to the contents and then dumping it, I started doing that, too.

    I cleaned the pans just as I was shown. I was also told that I had great hand hygiene (I wash and disinfect constantly). I didn't see anyone wearing a mask to block aerosolized microbes. I wonder if I might do that without seeming odd. Am I making a mountain out of a molehill?

    This is one of the sickest I have ever been in my life. It ranks up there with the time I had e-coli. Very bad. Exhausting. I sure hope that I can avoid getting sick in the future from something like this.
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  3. by   AirforceRN
    You know, I have never really thought about getting sick from dumping bed pans but I guess it makes sense. The only time I wear a mask while doing this is when the stuff in the pot smells so bad it makes me gag. Then, in goes the gum, on goes the mask and the mouth breathing begins. I suppose its possible to get sick from that, Those shower things do kind of freak me out but how else do you get the stuff clean?
    We have a hopper (dishwasher type thingy) in the emerg that we use. I hate opening it up after the sanitation cycle because steam billows out that smells like 300 degree diahrrea...which I guess is exactly what it is. Its horrible and makes me thing that my lungs are probably screaming at me. Yuck