kind of material, regardless of what pur-
pose the draping is intended to accomplish.
Steam vaporizers, hot foods, and
liquidsthese are common causes of pa-
tient burns. When using steam vaporizers,
ensure that the vapor of steam does not
flow directly on the patient as a result of
the initial positioning of the equipment or
by accidental movement or bumping. Pa-
tients may be more sensitive to hot foods
and liquids and more likely burned. Also,
due to lack of coordination, weakness, or
medication, patients may be less able to
handle hot foods and liquids safely without
In the direct patient care units as well as in
diagnostic and treatment areas, there are
unlimited potentials for inflicting burns on pa-
tients. When modern electrical and electronic
and potent chemicals used for
diagnosis and treatment are used properly they
contribute to the patients recovery and rehabilita-
tion. When these are used carelessly or im-
properly, these same sources only cause the patient
additional pain and discomfort, serious illness,
and, in some cases, even death.
Often when we speak of safety measures, one
of our first thoughts is of a fire or an explosion
involving the loss of life or injury to a number
of people. Good housekeeping, maintenance, and
discipline help to prevent such mishaps.
Remember that buildings that are constructed of
fire-resistant materials are not fireproof, and cer-
tainly not explosion proof. Good maintenance in-
cludes checking, reporting, and ensuring correct
repair of electrical equipment, and routine check-
ing of fire fighting equipment by qualified per-
sonnel. The education and training of personnel
are the most effective means of preventing fires.
Used in the context of fire safety measures, good
discipline means having a plan to use as outlined
in a Fire Bill, having periodic fire drills, and en-
forcing no-smoking regulations.
Staff members should be familiar with the fire
regulations at their duty station and know what
to do in case of fire. This includes how to report
a fire, use a fire extinguisher, and evacuate pa-
tients. When a fire occurs, there are certain basic
rules to follow: someone must take charge, remain
calm, and notify the fire department and the of-
ficer of the day, giving the exact location of the
fire. All oxygen equipment and electrical ap-
pliances must be turned off unless necessary to
sustain life. All windows and doors should be
closed and all possible exits clear. All patients
must be removed in a calm and orderly fashion,
Careless handling of cigarettes is one of the
most frequent causes of serious and often fatal
accidents. Cigarettes and matches must be re-
moved from the bedside or placed out of reach
of the incompetent or irrational patient. Regula-
tions should specify areas and times when smok-
ing is permitted. Patients, visitors, and staff must
be informed of the facilitys smoking regulations.
To be an effective safety measure, these regula-
tions must be enforced by all staff personnel.
Smoking stands and ashtrays should be provided
only in areas where smoking is permitted. Metal
wastebaskets must be used throughout the
hospital. They should NEVER be placed under
the bed or used for cigarette disposal. NO
SMOKING signs should be visibly displayed in
rooms and areas where oxygen and flammable
agents are used or stored. In addition to posting
NO SMOKING signs, ALL staff must impress
upon the patient and visitors the life-threatening
dangers of disobeying or ignoring smoking
GENERAL SAFETY GUIDELINES
In addition to the specifics already presented
above, there are some basic principles that are
relevant to patient safety. The following concepts
should direct the actions of the provider in any
care service environment.
Familiarity with the environment makes it
less hazardous to the individual.
An individuals body senses inform him or
her about the nature of the environment.
Age and illness affect an individuals abil-
ity to perceive and interpret sensory stimuli
from the environment.
All diagnostic and therapeutic measures
have the potential to cause a patient harm.
Documenting and analyzing all accidents
and incidents are necessary to identify and
correct high-risk safety hazards.