Infectious Diseases and Chemicals you have been exposed to with or without knowing?

  1. 2
    Another recent topic got me thinking about all the things we are exposed to almost everyday and sometimes without knowing.

    Have you ever worked in the ER and later taken another patient to the ICU or med surg to find another patient you spent most of the shift with in isolation with every type of isol sign attached to their door?

    Ever think about all the patients which go into isolation on the floors/units after their cultures come back which you may have taken care of for hours in another unit like the ER? I know my scrubs either stay at the hospital or go home in a plastic bags. Shoes never go home once they have touched the hospital floor even in NICU.

    Ever sit in front of a patient with Nitric Oxide running all shift?

    Or, Ribavirin which used to be ran in ward type areas in the 80s and early 90s with many kids on it at one time. Nurses and an RT were sentenced to stay in that room for the entire shift.


    Ever have a CPAP/BIPAP machine or Non rebreather mask running in the ER or whatever unit and later find out that patient is positive for a nasty strain of flu, rare respiratory infection yet to be named or TB?

    How many medicine nebulizers have you worked around within a couple feet?

    How many times have you taken the clothes off patients with "dust" on them and later find out (maybe) it was some toxic chemical or something which was not that good for you to breathe into your lungs while removing the clothes?

    Do you keep a mask nearby for dusty clothing and patients who come in with "consumption cough"?

    If you have survived many years in a health care profession without contracting anything on the job, do you ever think "Damn I am lucky" or "Just damn good at looking out for number 1"?
    madwife2002 and Esme12 like this.
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  3. 10 Comments so far...

  4. 4
    I hear you on this one! I have spent a lifetime at the bedside. I think of all those patients that died years ago and we had no clue why. I think of all the times we didn't wear gloves, masks, or gowns. How many TB patients I cared for without the benefit of a special mask?

    I think of a patient that a friend got Hep C from who was the first patient we cared for that had HIV. How many times I had gama globulin becasue of one exposure of another? All those immunizations for one thing or another.

    How many HepB series I went through trying to get me to convert only to find some people will never convert. The radiation from implants, x-rays, CT scans, monitors, working in cath lab, giving drugs that are no longer used that were common....heavens knows what else. Heck we used to play with the mercury from thermometers and calibrating equipment

    I wonder how much that has messed with my immune system that I now have a rare auto-immune disorder that steals my independence.

    I don't think we will ever know because the hospitals will never take responsibility.
  5. 2
    So true! I remember some foul smelling stuff that the GI dept would soak their endoscopy equipment in, it was blue, I can't remember the name but later on it was found to be toxic causing CA. Many of the GI staff became sick from it!
    I worked in old wards which were demolished later on because they were unsafe and has asbestos in the walls and ceilings
    We made up antibiotics in the med room and wore no gloves
    TraumaSurfer and Esme12 like this.
  6. 7
    As a junior member of the Crusty Old Bat Society, I was a nurse LONG before AIDS was identified, long before we were allowed to have gloves for ANYthing. (That's right kids- we started IVs and cleaned up poop with our bare hands).

    I was stuck by a dirty needle an MD hid on a tray- who knows what the patient had.

    I've held so many kids for so many xrays- I will never need a nightlight.

    Only wish I could be around to read my own autopsy report No doubt, it'll be a doozy!
    KelRN215, cardiacfreak, Esme12, and 4 others like this.
  7. 4
    We mixed everything in ICU...hyperal, drugs/drips, chemo, Amphotericin B, Nipride (which is cyanide) everything....no hood no gloves. We just didn't use them.
  8. 4
    Not to mention how once upon a time we were exposed to second hand smoke from nurses smoking at the station, pts smoking in lounges, long term pts smoking in bed...
    Hygiene Queen, cardiacfreak, Esme12, and 1 other like this.
  9. 3
    When I used gloves for poop cleanup in the 70s, people made fun of me for it, not that it stopped me. Also had the yellow-man needle-stick hidden in the drapes, the odd chemical fumes off-gassing from hair and clothes, and surprise radioactive implants, among others. And don't forget the vented unfiltered exhaust from the anesthesia machines-- those of us who worked in OR suites got exposed to plenty of that stuff.

    Hey, maybe that's why the incidence of dementia may be increasing? (actually, it really isn't--I just read a good paper on that; it's actually down since the 80s). Or perhaps these things will offer us old nurses some protective benefit? Who the heck knows.
    TraumaSurfer, meanmaryjean, and Esme12 like this.
  10. 3
    All of it...all. I remember when we were told to wear gloves only if absolutely necessary as it made the patient feel alienated and alone. Therapeutic touch et al.
  11. 4
    Quote from Pepper The Cat
    Not to mention how once upon a time we were exposed to second hand smoke from nurses smoking at the station, pts smoking in lounges, long term pts smoking in bed...
    I was a guilty smoker...sorry......I remember doc's smoking and putting out their smokes in the patients ashtraya.
  12. 1
    I guess this is why universal precautions are necessary. Many of the things described by OP could happen at almost any job. You cannot control who comes to work sick, etc. In hospitals we have friends and family who are SICK themselves, coming in to visit others and exposing us all. UGH
    TraumaSurfer likes this.


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