*Original post released 3/15/2020
Part 2 of 2:
Protect yourself FIRST! You cannot help others later if you put yourself at risk now. Resist the urge to jump in and help, even in emergency situations, until you have protected yourself. Not protecting yourself unknowingly put both yourself and others at risk.
If this should happen to you, take IMMEDIATE action. As nurses, it’s our first instinct to help…especially when we know we have the knowledge and ability to do so. But your other patients need you too. In this instance, I exited the room to immediately change out of my scrubs and seal them in an airtight bag. I had to wear surgical scrubs for the remainder of my shift. I took extra care not to touch anyone or set foot in any patient rooms on the way to our locker area. I proceeded to scrub my hands and arms with soap and water. This was definitely an eye opening experience for me.
With this virus, current recommendations are to implement droplet precautions (Ex: mask, gown, eye shield, glove). Airborne precautions/rooms/PPE are reserved for patients that have conditions requiring their use and for procedures involving COVID-19 patients where splashes & sprays are expected or other high risk procedures are to be performed (Ex: bronchoscopy, code).
Moral of the story: surgical scrubs are NOT cool unless you’re a surgeon; and EVERYONE knows something happened with unexpected exposure to bodily fluids. In this life and profession, all we have is our health. It is not worth the worry and potential lasting effects to unnecessarily expose yourself to the unknown heath status of a stranger. Love yourself enough to protect and put yourself first. That’s my lesson for the day…one I learned the hard way, so you don’t have to.