Before We Start
World Physiotherapy Day (or World Day of Physical Therapy) is celebrated annually on September 8. This day gives physiotherapists the opportunity to raise people's awareness of the crucial contribution they make to preserving people's health, independence and well-being.
However, fighting for the health of patients, healthcare professionals often risk their own. Sometimes occupational diseases even force them to leave medicine.
The healthcare sector is considered one of the most dangerous in terms of occupational disease. This is because employees constantly deal with various diseases and electrical, magnetic and other devices.
According to the CDC, the overall morbidity of medical workers is comparable to that of workers in industries with the most unfavorable working conditions.
We want to remind you that only healthy and happy medical professionals can really help others. By following our simple safety precautions, your physical therapy and communication can be a pleasant experience.
Stay tuned and you will learn about:
- Tips for physical therapists: how to protect your own health
- Fighting infections in the office
- Precautions: how not to harm a patient.
Physiotherapeutic Procedure: How to Conduct It Safely?
Depending on the specifics of workplace conditions, healthcare workers are at risk of exposure to dangerous biological, chemical and physical factors.
Occupational disease is a functional disorder of the body, aggravated due to systematic contact with obviously harmful factors or substances, while performing work duties.
Working in physiotherapy offices is associated with risk:
- Of harmful and dangerous factors when working with physiotherapy equipment
- Of electric shock
- Of a fire-hazardous situation.
We can split all the dangerous and harmful factors of production for a common physio into 5 groups:
Let’s consider some factors in more detail.
Besides high temperature, vibration level and levels of different radiation healthcare providers face other risky physical factors that may ruin their health, the most destructive being:
- Increased noise level
- Increased ultrasound level
- Increased electromagnetic field.
During physiotherapy procedures, when working with computer equipment, medical personnel may be exposed to electromagnetic fields of various frequency ranges. Ultrasound equipment is currently widely used for diagnosis and treatment.
So, how can you make your workflow safer?
The most effective means of noise reduction is the replacement of noisy technological operations with low-noise or completely silent ones. It is of great importance to reduce it at the source, however this is not always possible.
Considering that it is not always possible to solve the problem of noise reduction with the help of technical means at present, much attention should be paid to the use of personal protective equipment (antiphones, plugs, etc.). The effectiveness of PPE can be ensured by their correct selection, depending on the levels and spectrum of noise, as well as monitoring the conditions of their operation.
Measures to prevent the adverse effects of ultrasound on the body of the staff members consist primarily of:
- Implementing automated ultrasound equipment with remote control
- Using low-power equipment whenever possible
- Placement of equipment in soundproof rooms or offices with remote control
- Wearing PPE.
The analysis of some samples of the latest physiotherapy equipment has shown that they generate electromagnetic fields of various types in a wide frequency range. In some cases in frequency ranges that do not have hygienic regulations.
We recommend following these general electromagnetic safety rules:
- Use personal protective equipment
- Limit your time of exposure to EMF
- Limit the power of equipment
- As a practice owner, make sure your architectural and planning solutions comply - with hygiene standards.
By chemical risk factors we mean the increased content of various hazard elements: hydrogen sulfide, carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, iodine, bromine, methane, radon and so on.
Harmful chemicals include medicines, in particular aerosols of antibiotics, vitamins, gaseous substances for general anesthesia. In addition, chemical agents for disinfection of premises, equipment, and tools are widely used in medical and preventive institutions.
Here you must pay attention to the presence of effective exhaust and emergency mechanical ventilation. The use of air conditioning systems that have automatic controls and measuring equipment that indicate the contamination of the air environment with chemicals is a must.
If you run a private practice, then it’s your duty to check your offices. Even if you work in a clinic, don't relax - your health is your responsibility. When you see some horrific violations of hygiene regulations, you can always contact the authorities.
According to our study, biological factors are the most important occupational factors in healthcare settings. And the gap between the runner-up (allergoses) is huge!
Simply check out our chart:
Harmful biological factors that medical workers have to come into contact with include pathogens of infectious diseases and viruses.
Doctors of physical therapy (DPT) and their patients are at greater risk of infections since the Coronavirus pandemic, because in-person treatment is usually the only way to help patients with back pain, orthopedic problems, and so on. Unfortunately, telemedicine won’t work in this case.
In practice, it is almost impossible to completely exclude employee contact with contagious (or non-contagious) patients.
Prevention of the spread of infection is the only way to solve this issue.
So, what to do?
#1. Screening before the appointment
Before the appointment (in the morning or the day before) you must do a simple verbal screening of a patient. You can call him, send an SMS, or email asking about his conditions, any symptoms of flu (coughing, sneezing, high temperature), or contact with sick people. It may seem like it goes without saying, but it’s not so simple!
Many people don’t even think about these questions until they are being asked. So, you should always offer them the way out: rescheduling, money back, or a telehealth consultation (yes, sometimes it may work).
#2. Temperature checks
A temperature check is the next step in infection control. Everyone in the clinic has to be checked: both the patients and the staff.
Moreover, keep in mind that measurements must be taken at the door! Otherwise, if you let a person in and check his temperature, it doesn’t make any sense.
#3. Proper germ hygiene
It may sound strange, but thanks to Covid-19 people have become more aware of handwashing. Even though it has always been a standard medical practice, clean hands and conscious patients really facilitate the process of patient care.
As a manager of a clinic, you should remind your staff to practice hand hygiene. Posters, tables may work.
It’s also important to provide every office with a sink and antibacterial soap. If a doctor is usually busy during rush hour. As simple humans, we are all capable of forgetting something, but when we have this "something" before our eyes, the possibilities of forgetting decrease.
#4. Personal protective equipment
When performing respiratory physiotherapy procedures, we strongly recommend taking precautions to protect against the spread of disease by air.
You can ask your patients to:
- Turn away during coughing and sputum discharge
- "Catch a cough" in a napkin, throw it away, and practice hand hygiene.
Because of regular direct contact with patients during manual therapy, a physiotherapist needs to wear some personal protective equipment.
In all cases of suspected or confirmed infection, you must wear the following:
- Surgical mask
- Long sleeve waterproof medical gown
- Safety glasses or face shields
Also, it would be wise to minimize individual influence in the work environment. It is required to remove all personal belongings before entering the work area and putting on personal protective equipment. This list includes: earrings, watches, badge laces, mobile phones, pagers, pens and so on.
#5. Social distancing
It’s challenging to achieve the distance in the physiotherapy office due to the nature of the treatment.
But you can still get some use out of it.
For example, you can reduce the number of contacts by implementing a modern PMS with the features of online billing, scheduling and booking. In addition, you can also implement electronic health records and telehealth. This simple step can reduce the number of clients standing in line and in your waiting room.
Learn how to simplify the doctor's work and free up more time for patients with Medesk.Open the detailed description >>
You can also request that your patients not bring friends and members of the family with them. Unless they need assistance, of course.
So, to cut it short, the safety of work in the department of physiotherapy should be achieved by:
- Technologically and sanitary justified placement, layout and decoration of premises
- Rational organization of work and workplaces
- Compliance with the rules of electrical safety
- Training of personnel in safe methods and techniques of work
- The use of effective means of personnel protection and sanitizers.
Keeping Your Patients Safe: Dos and Don’ts During Appointments
Physiotherapy can be combined with other therapeutic techniques and medications. Moreover, they enhance the effect of drugs. The therapeutic effect of physiotherapy persists for a long time: from several weeks to several months. It is shown to both children and the elderly.
One of the advantages of physiotherapy is that it has no side effects or serious contraindications. Appliances for home use are usually simple and do not pose a risk of overdose. Chronic disease patients can use them to quickly relieve pain, ease the condition, etc.
But! Only a doctor can determine the duration, sequence and frequency of procedures necessary for treatment.
Despite the fact that physiotherapy has practically no side effects, certain rules must be observed when prescribing and conducting procedures.
What should you do
So, make sure that you follow this simple algorithm:
- Read the prescription
- Explain the rules of the procedure to your patient
- Explain the possible feelings and sensations
- Read the safety rules
You can not touch the equipment and change the parameters yourself!
- Make sure that a patient hasn’t eaten any food for 1 – 2 hours
- Carry out the procedure in a position convenient for a patient
- Watch his conditions during the exposure
- Watch the operation of the device
- Provide a mandatory rest before (about 15 minutes) and after the procedure (20-30 minutes).
What you shouldn’t do
During and after different procedures, you shouldn’t:
- Forget to prescribe analyses
- Offer procedures immediately
- Leave wires on the patient's body
- Use medical jargon during the instruction
- Carry trolleys and step on electrical cables or cords of electro-medical equipment and other electrical receivers
- Place metal plates on human skin during electrophoresis of medicines
- Use damaged mercury-quartz lamps
- Prescribe drugs or medication
The most important thing you shouldn’t do is harm a patient.
In order to be a professional, you must respect your client, listen to his complaints, and offer the best solution for his case.
We have covered the most significant safety precautions for your clinical practice. From personal hygiene to precautionary measures for caregivers, it's a matter of bringing them to life.
You may also be interested in the process of medical staff training as a huge part of a medical practice's success.