At Home Wound Care

April 8, 2020
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Wound care for minor cuts, burns, or abrasions can be done at home with only a few supplies. Ensure that there are no other injuries (ie broken bones) before attending to the wound. For any minor wound, your first steps to care should look like this:

Step 1: Wash or disinfect your hands before handling any wound, especially another person’s. This helps prevent infections.

Step 2: Assess the wound. Is this something you should leave to a medical professional? If it is less than half an inch long, or deep, go to a doctor. If any of the following are true, seek medical attention:

  • Bleeding comes in spurts or you cannot stop the bleeding with applying gentle pressure. 
  • The wound has jagged edges, is deep or gaping, or is across a joint
  • You have a bite from an animal or human
  • Your wound is very dirty or was imposed by a dirty object 
  • You develop redness and swelling and/or a fever—and/or you experience numbness and loss of mobility in the wounded body part.
  • The wound is on your face 
  • You are not up to date on your tetanus vaccines 

Step 3: If you have determined that it does not require medical attention, proceed by cleaning it. (After you have stopped the bleeding). To do this, you should first rinse the wound in clean water, removing any dirt or debris. If you need to, use alcohol sterilized tweezers to remove any pebbles or dirt that is lodged within the wound. Using sterilized gauze, or a washcloth use mild soap and water to gently clean around the wound, taking care not to get soap inside. There is no need to use hydrogen peroxide or rubbing alcohol, which can harm healthy cells needed for healing. For a burn, hold it under cool water for 10-15 minutes, or hold a cold cloth on it.

Step 4: Apply a thin layer an antibiotic cream or ointment to promote healing and prevent infection.

Step 5: Dress the wound. Not all wounds will need to be covered, but any wound that is large, or in a place where it could get dirty or rub against your clothes (hands, feet, knees). Some may only require a bandaid, while larger wounds may require a cohesive bandage. A bandaid can be applied directly to the wound. For a cohesive bandage, you will need to place a gauze sponge on the wound (with ointment) and gently wrap the cohesive around to keep the gauze in place and to keep it clean. All dressings should be changed every 24 hours or when it gets wet or dirty. 

Once you have cared for the wound, watch out for any of the following symptoms as it could mean your wound is infected: 

  • Increased pain, redness or swelling
  • Skin around the wound feels warm
  • Unpleasant odor when cleaning the wound
  • Increased drainage or pus
  • Fever or chills

If you experience any of these symptoms following a wound, seek medical attention immediately. 

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Coronavirus 2020: Risks, Precautions, & Facts

February 27, 2020
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Dr. Nancy Messonnier, the CDC’s director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases said the virus, called COVID-19 (Coronavirus), is “rapidly evolving and spreading” and that “successful containment at U.S. borders is becoming problematic.” She warned U.S citizens and local communities to prepare for “disruption to everyday life” in the case of a pandemic. As of Feb. 26, there are only 14 cases in the U.S. and 12 were travel-related. With that being said, individual risk is dependent on exposure, and is considered low for those who have not traveled to China recently.

What is Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)?

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a virus strain, identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some causing illness in people and others circulating among animals, including camels, cats, and bats. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can evolve and infect people and then spread, such as was seen with Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) in 2014 and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003 and is now being seen with COVID-19.

How is it spread? (All information is directly from the CDC)

  • The air by coughing or sneezing
  • Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
  • Touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands.
  • People are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest).
  • The virus that causes COVID-19 seems to be spreading easily and sustainably in Hubei province and other parts of China. In the United States, spread from person-to-person has occurred only among a few close contacts and has not spread any further to date.

What are the Symptoms?

For confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases, reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death. Symptoms can include (CDC):

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

Precautions to Take:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Stay home if you are ill (except to visit a health care professional) and avoid close contact with others.
  • Older adults and those with chronic medical conditions should consider postponing nonessential travel.
  • Travelers should avoid contact with sick people and clean their hands often by washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with 60%–95% alcohol. 

Follow CDC’s recommendations for using a face mask.

  • CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
  • Face Masks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to  others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a healthcare facility).

There is a lot of misinformation out there, make sure to get updates and information about the Coronavirus from reliable sources like the CDC (Center for Disease Control) and Department of Health, which is where all information in this article was pulled from. You can get an updated report of the situation in the US here. It is important that we band together as people, with the common interest of public and global health, rather than fear-mongering and spreading false information. While yes, a new, fast moving virus can be scary, at this time you are far more likely to get the common flu. Take the precautions above to avoid all illnesses in this season, know your facts, and stay healthy.

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Physician Burnout: What, How, and What to do About it

May 17, 2018
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Self Care for those in healthcare

Have you ever heard the saying you have to take care of yourself before you can care for others? This phrase rings true for everyone, maybe even more so for physicians and those in healthcare. The stress, pressure, and high exposure to trauma that physicians face can be taxing in a way that most people cannot understand. With the intense hours and long days, little time is left for physicians to process and deal with feelings, let alone to rest, relax, and spend time with loved ones. For doctors, stakes are high and there is little room for error. Physicians cannot afford the luxury of simply showing up to work and mindlessly cruising through the day. They need to be present, engaged, and tuned in. The suicide rate for physicians is higher than any other profession. Many who are struggling with mental health issues, which contribute to the high suicide rate, avoid getting help because of the fear of judgement and stigma. As said by Dr. Adam Hill, “Many physicians fear that showing vulnerability will lead to professional repercussions, judgment, or reduced opportunities. My experience has been that the benefits of living authentically far outweigh the risks.”

What is burnout?

The difference between stress and burnout, is that stress is something you can recover from shift to shift. Burnout, on the other hand, is a deeper and more ongoing issue, where you are not able to just recover between shifts.There are 3 key characteristics that define burnout: physical and emotional exhaustion, cynicism, and inefficacy. It is a continuance of emotional exhaustion that affects not only most aspects of one’s work, but also mental health and home life. The stress and burnout health care professionals experience can also lead to compassion fatigue and depersonalization. This means you become callous towards patients and can neglect to see their value as human beings.

How can you recognize when you are burning out?

When your energy accounts drop into negative balance, most physicians react by going into “survival mode” at work. You put your head down and try to grind through the work on autopilot, just trying to make it through the day. Being in this “survival mode” is a clear mark that you are well into burnout. At this point, it is important that you find ways to pull yourself out of this rut and to find things that bring you joy. Luckily, there are ways to care for yourself amidst a busy work schedule that can reduce the risk or burnout, or help you recover. While this list is not exhaustive, and burnout recovery is often a process, this list highlights some of the most important and doable strategies for self care.

Self care strategies:

  • Surround yourself with people who know you, love you, and care about you. Create a network of people who can keep you accountable and check in on you.
  • Keep your work-life balance in check: Your work shouldn’t be taking over every aspect of your life. There should be time for activities you enjoy and to spend time with family and friends.
  • Seek additional help and training that allows you to better cope with the emotional nature of your work
  • Work to improve communication and management skills
  • Recognize when you need to take a step back, and do so

Self care serves as a way to minimize and manage  burnout, compassion fatigue, and overall feelings of being overwhelmed and overworked. When a physician or healthcare professional cares for him or herself, it is not only beneficial to the individual, but to the workplace, and the patients. This is a reminder for all healthcare providers: take time for you. Yes, your patients need you, but they need the best version of you. That version requires upkeep, rest, and self care.

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