Dehydration is one of the most common problems in the U.S., with 75% of Americans chronically dehydrated. Dehydration can lead to several problems. If a person is constantly dehydrated, they’re more likely to feel exhausted and be at risk of urinary and kidney problems.
Dehydration is a common issue among healthcare workers in particular. In a 2016 study, 36% of participating clinical staff were dehydrated at the beginning of their shift, while 45% of clinical staff were dehydrated.
Some nurses and doctors might forget to drink water because they have to attend to several patients throughout their shift. Some even skip meals and breaks to accommodate everyone. During the pandemic, healthcare workers who attend to COVID-19 patients are more likely to be dehydrated since they have to wear their protective equipment for several consecutive hours to avoid depleting supplies. With several layers, PPEs make workers sweat profusely and become even more dehydrated.
But dehydration isn’t something that can just be brushed off. Hospital leaders have a responsibility to take action and ensure that all healthcare workers are hydrated at all times to keep themselves and the patients safe.
Effects of Dehydration On Health Workers
Dehydration can affect memory and attention. And these problems might lead to larger issues in healthcare administration, such as medication errors. Workers’ productivity is also affected. Since they feel tired, workers are less likely to finish their tasks for the day and extend their working hours, making them more stressed. In a worst-case scenario, healthcare workers may faint due to fatigue brought by dehydration and will need to be connected to an IV drip.
How to Ensure that Health Workers are Hydrated
Dehydration is a workplace issue. So hospital leaders must take certain steps to save workers from it.
Put Reminders in Work Areas
When a person sees reminders repeatedly, they’re more likely to remember them. Thus, putting up posters that remind health workers to drink water and rest can be helpful. These posters can be placed in their resting areas, in the pantry, and other common areas.
Leaders can conduct a brief seminar on the importance of proper hydration for healthcare practitioners. Discuss how dehydration can affect how they work and, in turn, affect the patients under their care. Remind workers of the symptoms of dehydration and how to address it properly. The seminar may also be an excellent venue to remind workers that they are entitled to take breaks in the middle of their shifts. After all, to provide exceptional care to patients, health workers must also be in the best state of health as they can be.
Compensate Workers Properly
Giving health workers proper compensation can also help in reducing their risk of dehydration. If health workers receive adequate pay, they are less likely to quit. And as a result, there will be no shortage of health workers. And they no longer need to overwork themselves or have inhumane shifts, which can risk their health.
Ensure Quality Supply of Water
Clean drinking water is essential in hospitals both for patients and workers. In the early 2010s, there were reports of Legionnaires’ infections in hospitals. Unclean water will prevent healthcare workers from drinking as much water as they can. It can also endanger the lives of everyone in hospitals. Thus, hospital management must also check on the supply of water in their facilities. Plumbing should be checked and replaced, if necessary.
Healthcare workers are essential workers, with or without a global pandemic. As such, hospital leaders must ensure that they are healthy and properly hydrated.