DreamyKid

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I'm about to volunteer in a hospital, and I have a lot of health concerns after the training session. This hospital is in an underserved area and not kept very clean due to a lack of resources. For those of you who volunteer in risky places, what do you do to protect yourself from the setting? (MRSA, airborne transmitted diseases, etc).

Thanks
 

TexasTriathlete

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Welcome to step 1 of: Do I really want to be a doctor?

Wear gloves when you have to come in contact with pts or their various goo.

Wash your hands frequently.

Don't be stupid.

Just wait until OB/GYN when you get soiled every day by some old hag's crudded up crotch. You will long for the days of "I hope I don't get a cold working at the hospital!"
 

nlax30

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What exactly will you be doing? If it involves patient contact make sure you wear gloves if needed and wash your hands before and after any patient interaction.
 
OP
D

DreamyKid

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cleaning, transport, feeding, that type of stuff. I'm more concerned about the unpreventable stuff, like coming in contact with an HIV pt or someone with other serious illness.
 

chad5871

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cleaning, transport, feeding, that type of stuff. I'm more concerned about the unpreventable stuff, like coming in contact with an HIV pt or someone with other serious illness.
It's actually relatively difficult to contract HIV from casual interactions with patients. Even if you accidentally get a needle stick from an infected patient, the risk of transmission is only about 30 in 10,000. For more information check out this paper:

Bell, D. M. (1997). "Occupational risk of human immunodeficiency virus infection in healthcare workers: an overview.". Am. J. Med. 102 (5B): 9-15. PMID 9845490.
 

Cpak

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As a volunteer you will be kept from bodily fluids that you can contract serious diseases from but yes you may get a flu or cold. As others have said just wash your hands after contact with each patient and before another. Also let the staff know what you are comfortable with and not.
 

135892

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I'm about to volunteer in a hospital, and I have a lot of health concerns after the training session. This hospital is in an underserved area and not kept very clean due to a lack of resources. For those of you who volunteer in risky places, what do you do to protect yourself from the setting? (MRSA, airborne transmitted diseases, etc).

Thanks
still want to go into medicine? :laugh:

But yeah, just use common sense... wear gloves, use hand sanitizer, etc...
 

TexasTriathlete

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As a volunteer you will be kept from bodily fluids that you can contract serious diseases from but yes you may get a flu or cold. As others have said just wash your hands after contact with each patient and before another. Also let the staff know what you are comfortable with and not.
When I was a volunteer, I got all kinds of goo on me. Blood, vomit, pee, etc. Nobody spooged on me, and they are pretty stingy with the CSF, but everything else was fair game.

They offered me a job almost immediately, once I made it clear that I was willing to work hard and I didn't complain about doing **** work.
 

Bacchus

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OP, as a volunteer you have a bit more discretion to say "No." You are not employed by the hospital and any staff will understand if you refuse to go into a certain room. That said, do not upfront say no to going into a room based on a patient's non-transmissable by casual contact disease. Also, if anything should occur you will be treated by the hospital (and their excellent team of doctors).
 

In Vino Veritas

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Also, if anything should occur you will be treated by the hospital (and their excellent team of doctors).
This is true; every hospital, doctor's office, clinic, etc. has a standard protocol for exposure to disease via needlestick or otherwise. This usually involves testing the patient for HIV, Hep C, and other blood bourne diseases, in addition to administering you prophylaxis if necessary. If you're really concerned, you can ask your volunteer coordinator about your hospital's policy.

Regarding basic patient contact, like everyone says: WASH YOUR HANDS. And if your hands get all dried and chapped from washing your hands 32904820 times a day, use Aveeno Intense Relief Hand Cream. It works miracles :)
 

Charles English

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Regarding basic patient contact, like everyone says: WASH YOUR HANDS. And if your hands get all dried and chapped from washing your hands 32904820 times a day, use Aveeno Intense Relief Hand Cream. It works miracles :)
nice plug. *why, i use Aveeno Intense Relief Hand Cream as well! After those long days of bathing in fluids and endless hand washing, i find that Aveeno Intense Relief Hand Cream takes my brittle digit holders to that smooth far away land of creamy town!*

seriously though. that hand cream is brilliant.
 

Mobius1985

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Besides washing your hands often, using hand sanitizer, and gloves, don't touch your eyes, nose, or mouth while on the premises of the hospital.

As a special note: Clostridium difficile spores survive for long periods despite all hospital cleaning protocols that do not include bleach (just had a lecture on this) and are an increasing cause of diarrhea which can very serious.
 

Handy388

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MRSA has less viability than the usual strain and usually don't cause disease in healthy people who aren't immunocompromised.
 

Hurricane95

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MRSA has less viability than the usual strain and usually don't cause disease in healthy people who aren't immunocompromised.
And where did you get this information? I'm rather curious to see the source on THAT one.

Wash your hands before and after you see every patient. As hard as it is to get used to, don't touch your mouth, eyes, nose or pretty much anywhere on your face unless you just washed/EtOH'ed your hands. An alcohol rub is as effective if not better than soap and water. Wear gloves for anything that may require contact with broken skin, mucosal surfaces or body fluids. If the patient is spewing droplets all over the place, wear a mask. You're pretty much bound to catch a nasty bacterial respiratory thing sooner or later within your first few weeks of being exposed to the hospital. It's very hard to prevent. All of my classmates have at some point or other in the first few months. But a little prevention goes a long way for the more serious stuff. Get immunized against hepatitis B!! This is an important one if you haven't already. If you're in a real endemic area you may want to consider other vaccines as well, like hepatitis A and typhoid.
 

notdeadyet

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I'm about to volunteer in a hospital, and I have a lot of health concerns after the training session.
I worked in a public emergency department for four years (San Francisco General ER). We had lots of recently arrived immigrants from places endemic with all sorts nasty bugs, patients who indulged in very risky lifestyles for catching Hep and HIV, and a whole lot of crazies who are not clean in any sense of the word.

Result: I found that while I got bugs more often than when I wasn't working in a hospital, I got a lot more bugs when working as a teacher. No comparison whatsoever. So keep it in perspective.

Follow the advice people gave below and you'll be fine. Your concerns are exactly why medical schools require clinical volunteering before medical school. If you can't handle the stresses of working with the sick (and there's no crime in that), medical school is not the direction you should be going.
 

riverwoman1040

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cleaning, transport, feeding, that type of stuff. I'm more concerned about the unpreventable stuff, like coming in contact with an HIV pt or someone with other serious illness.
Do some research on what has to happen for you to contract HIV. I've worked with plenty of patients with AIDs and was never worried.

The TB patients hacking on me were a different story...
 

MilkmanAl

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I've worked in a pharmacy in an underserved area for over 2 years and volunteered in an underserved hospital for a awhile as well. I get coughed, sneezed, and oozed on all the time, and I've never been sick since starting. Just clean your hands regularly. You actually stand to beef up your immune system substantially with all the crap you'll be exposed to. :p
 

nu2004

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I'm about to volunteer in a hospital, and I have a lot of health concerns after the training session. This hospital is in an underserved area and not kept very clean due to a lack of resources. For those of you who volunteer in risky places, what do you do to protect yourself from the setting? (MRSA, airborne transmitted diseases, etc).

Thanks
just take the personal safety precautions seriously. if a GSW comes in spurting blood all over the place, you don't life a finger until you've gowned/gloved/masked up. that's not to say that you should take your time with it, but your personal safety always comes first.

as far as MRSA and airborne transmitted diseases (what do you mean by this -- the flu?), those are just thing that exist in a hospital and it's very unlikely that you are going to "catch" anything. you should be more concerned about isolating yourself from patient body fluids especially if they contain blood (sputum w/ blood, urine w/ blood, etc).

if you see people being stupid with needles (ANYONE, from nurses to attendings), call them out. i would routinely observe residents leaving dirty-*** needles all over the place and i would politely remind them to clean up after themselves. ensuring the safety of one's coworkers, particularly in a healthcare environment, is a hierarchy-free responsibility.

i got splashed in the eye with blood from a patient who as HIV/HepA/HepB/HepC positive, and although it made my life stressful for a while, it didn't amount to anything. you'll be fine.