Catching every bug that walks in the door

  1. I have been in nursing for almost 12 years now, and an RN for 5 of those years. I started working in the ER 2 months ago and think I have caught every bug that has walked in the door. I am not the only one, as there was a sinus bug and a gi bug going around that wiped out half our staff for about a week, but it is bothering me that I seem to be catching every single thing at this point.
    I keep hearing the joke about a nurse in the ER having an immune system strong enough to attack squirrels in the backyard, and am wondering if this is something that is acquired over time? Did all of you get sick a lot during the first 6 months there?
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    About TheLionessRN

    Joined: Sep '02; Posts: 166; Likes: 42


  3. by   RainbowSkye
    I worked in a busy ER for many years and would always get sick after 12 hours in triage. I have never liked triage (well, I never liked being stuck in a little room with no relief for 12+ hours) and there were lots of nurses who did, so, luckily, I wasn't assigned triage often. I always blamed the sick kids for my colds.
    Best advice: Stay healthy, drink lots of water and wash your hands all the time. And take a day off every once in a while.
  4. by   kaycee
    I have been working in the ER for 20+ years and yes I think it takes time to build up your immunity. I rarely get sick or call off. If I do catch something it's usually mild and short lived.
    Do keep your immune system strong by getting enough rest, eating right and take vitamens.
  5. by   Kim Steinmann
    Yes, I have been working in the ER for the past year and have had the GI bug twice and before this not since childhood. As well as various other UTI's. I have been told that your immune system will eventually keep up and you won't be sick as much! Hang in there!!
  6. by   MLL
    I was a new nurse in ER for exactly 1 1/2 weeks before I came down with half a dozen viruses. I was so worried about being out sick after just being hired, but the response of my team leader was, "This happens to all new ER nurses. We just count on it, so don't worry about it."
    Anyway, got over 'em all and now I rarely catch anything. Good luck!
  7. by   charger
    I have been in employed in a hospital about 5 yrs. I too initially had several illnesses but now I seem to be immune.
    The thing that bothers me is taking germs home to my family. I think staff working in an ED should be treated like they do with staff in the OR. We should come in in street clothes, change to scrubs, and at the end of the shift be able to shower and change back to our civvies.
  8. by   TheLionessRN
    Well, I am sorry to report that my new job does not understand the concept of catching a lot of bugs when new to the ER. I was given notice of termination of contract due to missing 3 days in 2 months. I have already found a new job, but sure am ticked off about the other one. I guess this place didn't know that immune systems need time to get used to stuff.....
  9. by   AngelGirl
    ER nurses do get exposed to a lot of stuff, seeing that we are on the front lines of the battlefield. I am ESPECIALLY prone to brochitis, having a history of allergies and pneumonia. Last week, I leaned over the most ADORABLE little neonate who smiled a HUGE smile at me, then promptly sneezed right into my nose!
    It was all downhill from there.

    However, I took the advice of another ER staff member, and bought a supply of the product "AIRBORNE" It's an OTC preparation formulated by a school teacher with similar woes. I felt SO-O-O-O much better taking this along with Vitamin C, Goldenseal, Echinacea, Tylenol and Grapefruit juice. The combination got me through several rough days. I actually woke with lots of bronchial gunk (sorry) and was amazed that it cleared without prescribed antibiotics. I'd tried all of this before, minus the AIRBORNE and saw no improvement.

    So, I think that it really did make the difference.
  10. by   veetach
    when I first started in the ER, it did seem like I got sick more than normal. I have been full time in the ER for almost 7 years and I find that the viruses usually manifest differently in me. ie.. where some people will be vomiting horribly, I might just have abd cramps and nausea.

    I totally agree with whoever said you have to take a day off once in a while, it is a must!
  11. by   galenight
    I agree with the others - i too got sick at first, but rarely now... with the exception of this past Christmas. A lady came in with terrible diarrhea 2 days before xmas. The 2 of us who took care of her in ER and the 3 nurses/aid who had contact with her on the floor got sick within 30 minutes of each other (at precisely 3:00am for me) Christmas eve. I made a valiant attempt to work that day but went home about 30 minutes into my shift. It's a wonder I made the drive in.... We are a very small hospital and to have 5 of us out of commission was killer over the holiday. Hang in there Lioness.. thing'll get better. Sorry to hear of the termination. Maybe if you suggested the reason for your frequent illnesses they might reconsider. Good luck
  12. by   Sarah, RNBScN