Trauma nurses can work in emergency rooms, intensive care units, or as a flight / transport nurse. They often work with unstable patients with various injuries and medical complications. Because of this, they must observe certain precautions to preserve their safety and well-being.

Trauma nurses sometimes don't know anything about the patient when they are first brought in to the Emergency Department - only a basic assessment of their injury. They must treat all patients as though they carry bloodborne pathogens (which is the same as in any area of nursing). Trauma patients commonly arrive bleeding, so personal Protective Equipment should be readily available to include, gloves, gowns, masks, goggles, etc.

Trauma patients can also experience behavioral disturbances. The shock from the trauma or substance abuse can make patients confused and agitated - nurses should be aware of their surroundings at all times, and avoid wearing long or dangling accessories such as earrings or lanyards. Chemical or mechanical restraints may be necessary until the patient is stabilized.

Some trauma patients arrive due to gunshot wounds, assault, or battery. Many facilities employ "lockdowns" on suspected or confirmed gang-related injuries, so trauma nurses should be prepared to know and follow the organization's workflows surrounding this. For example, visitors are restricted, and the trauma victim may try to be contacted by the aggressor. Nurses should know how to deter attempts to reach patients and maintain patient privacy.

Nurses working in trauma units may also care for patients requiring total care- in other words, the patients they care for may have extremely limited mobility. Nurses should be cognizant of ergonomics when moving or mobilizing patients. Using a team approach helps reduce the physical strain of moving patients, and communication among the team is crucial.

Trauma nurses often work in chaotic, high-stress environments. Emotions can run high, and nurses sometimes need an outlet for caregiver stress. Practicing healthy stress -reduction techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, yoga, prayer, or just de-briefing with a colleague, friend, or significant other can help.

Amanda Bucceri Androus RN, BSN
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