Risk of Infectious Disease: Job Hazard for this with Kids?

  1. Hi there,

    Just wanted to get some feedback (US based nurses) on how likely is it that you can be infected with a hazardous disease while doing your job, which obviously you would not want to pass on to your small kids. This is assuming you dont apply for a position in the infectious diseases area.

    Are there a lot of cases in which the RNs (given that you get first contact with an ill patient) end up getting exposed or become carriers of a bad disease?

    I am about to enroll for a BSN and all my relatives keep saying "oh its scary to be a nurse, especially since you have 3 small kids because of the chances of being exposed to a deadly disease bla bla blah......."

    I will still pursue it though, but just wanted to hear how it really is in the real nursing environment.....

    Thank you for any feedback.
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    About rookieq

    Joined: Feb '07; Posts: 54

    14 Comments

  3. by   TazziRN
    Yes, the chances are there but you're not exactly pulling your clothes off and rubbing up against infected people!! Practice good universal precautions every day, and when dealing with some really nasty bugs follow the infectious disease protocols (mask, gowns, etc.) and you will be fine. Even needle sticks often don't pass on bugs. I have lost count of how many needle stick exposures I've had and I have still yet to get anything worse than a cold.....knock on wood. We deal with some nasty stuff but it's rare to pass it on to our families. Most nurses manage very nicely to get our children to adulthood. Don't listen to your relatives, if it was that dangerous then there wouldn't be very many nurses out there.
  4. by   CraigB-RN
    After almost 30 years of doing this I've never worried about it. I actually worry more about the person sitting next to me in the movie theater or resteraunt than getting anything at work. I remember being in a resteraunt in PA and seeing a pill bottle near the cash register, it was for TB meds. I didn't eat there agaian. I've worked in Infectectios disease, taking care of travelers with the creeping crud, HIV patients with oportunistic infections I've never heard of and I've never taken anything home with me. I've always been carefull and I've never had a needle stick.

    I wash my hands frequently, wear the appropriate barier protection, always wear face sheild or goggles, and keep a high index of suspision, but not paranoia.
  5. by   bill4745
    When I get home, I undress right in my laundry room, and take a complete shower, including washing my hair (think how many times each day most of us move our hair with our hands-could leave a lot of germs on our hair). Before I leave the ER, I wash my hands and use a stiff dose of alcohol hand cleaner lotion. I can't think of any illness my wife and children have gotten from me.
  6. by   snowfreeze
    When I had small kids I was working in ICU. I changed my scrubs at work as they provided them, my shoes were kept in my locker then I showered when I got home. I also kept my kids vaccinations up to date including yearly flu. I never aquired VRE, MRSA, c-diff, strep or staph infections from patients nor did I pass them to my children. I think my kids got all their colds and strep throat infections from classmates.
    Did I worry about infecting them, occasionally when we had a patient with a "mystery illness" but most of the time I felt I was cautious enough to prevent infecting myself and not carrying home anything infectious.
  7. by   4theBetterGetter
    Yes, unfortunatly you can....I caught Hep C from a patient 20-30 years ago......passed it to my daughter teaching her too shave her legs of all things.....Be careful...very, very careful!
  8. by   RNsRWe
    If you follow today's protocols and procedures of Universal Precautions (something most definitely NOT in effect 20-30 years ago!) you will be just fine.

    Frankly, I am usually more concerned about one of my KIDS bringing home some snotty-tummy-sickie round of Ick Germs from their friends at school, and passing it on to ME!
  9. by   rita359
    Our environment, whether in hospital or outside the hospital, is full of germs. You can catch anything, anywhere. School will teach you how to protect yourself from hospital germs. Use precautions you are taught there. Even then those of us who have been nurses for a long time know that for years we didn't use gloves etc and I never got anything much less brought it home to kids or family. That being said the bird flu thing scares me.
  10. by   indigo girl
    Well, it is true that your kids will most likely make YOU sick. That said, however, I have worked in two facilities where the staff got salmonella and gave it their families. Likewise, noro virus was acquired at work and passed to children. In the past month, four CNAs picked up scabies at a LTC facility, and one passed it to her child. Work related upper respiratory infections are very common since many HCW continue to work even when infectious.

    Start your practice with safety. Wear gloves, masks/goggles when appropriate. If a patient is coughing, walk out of the room, and grab a mask. Make sure that you know where they are. Wash your hands frequently. Never be embarrassed to use protection.

    And, stay home if you are sick. Don't become part of the culture that says you have to go to work even if you are sick. Break the chain of infection, and stay home.
  11. by   Chaya
    For us our worst "bugs" always traveled the other way: they came home to us from school/ scouts/ religious school/ daycare or play group!
  12. by   RNperdiem
    Many patients are hospitalized for chronic non-infectious diseases. As long as I am careful to follow contact isolation, I'm not worried.
    The kids do plenty at school to pass on infections among themselves.
  13. by   RNfaster
    I caught a Norovirus during my first week of work (which was just recently). I have noticed that I have felt like I am fighting off other bugs, but thankfully, they did not manifest in full blown sickness.

    I adhere to Standard Precautions, but I believe that I may have acquired the Norovirus when washing either an emesis pan or a bedside commode pan from a patient. I think I may have aerosolized some of the microbes, which then hit my mucous membranes.

    Like another poster, I come home and undress in the laundryroom. I leave my shoes in the garage. I read a post by someone in Europe (Benelux region) who said that the hospital provided them with locker rooms with showers, laundry facilities, etc. This poster also noted that they did not wear their uniforms or shoes outside the facility. I think that makes great sense. I wish we did the same here.

    Oh, another thing... I throw in Lysol when I wash my scrubs. I also spray the floor and other surfaces with it.
  14. by   cardsRN
    honestly, no. wash your hands and use the recommended PPE for the situation. my son brings home all kinds of crap from the playroom at my gym though. i've been sick for a week with the latest round.
    but then again, i work in cardiac surgery. those who work in "buggier" areas (MICU maybe) may have more to worry about as far as strep/flu/GI bugs. so glove, gown, mask, wash and choose your area of practice carefully if you are worried i think.

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