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Stericycle's Third Annual Healthcare Workplace Safety Trend Report Reveals Significant Challenges for Healthcare Professionals and Consumers
Report raises concern over proper medical waste management and safety within healthcare organizations and at-home care
BANNOCKBURN, Ill., Dec. 5, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- Stericycle, Inc. (Nasdaq: SRCL), a leading provider of medical waste management and secure information destruction solutions, today released its third annual Healthcare Workplace Safety Trend Report revealing how providers and administrators in the U.S. view health and safety in their organizations and its impact on peers, patients and surrounding communities. New this year, the study also surveyed consumers about their concerns with safety when seeking care. The report aims to provide valuable insights on the challenges the industry and patients face today and how to best help healthcare organizations understand their safety profiles, improve workplace safety standards, create a quality care environment and reduce impacts on the environment.
This year's key findings found 9 in 10 of the Healthcare Professionals (HCPs) and consumers surveyed agree that medical waste management is important in delivering the best possible patient care. Most of the HCPs and administrators surveyed say that improper medical waste disposal puts the physical safety (95% HCPs; 87% administrators) and emotional well-being (79% HCPs; 85% administrators) of HCPs at risk, and they would not be able to do their jobs effectively without proper medical waste management (84% HCPs; 81% administrators). However, 2 in 3 of the HCPs surveyed said they feel they do not have a strong understanding of how their organization disposes of medical waste and feel there could be more training and resources available.
"Following the pandemic, the U.S. healthcare system remains under stress but is working to address challenges and opportunities such as the staffing shortage and the desire for increased access to at-home care," said Cory White, executive vice president and chief commercial officer at Stericycle. "It is important that organizations not lose sight of the fundamentals that impact provider satisfaction and patient care. This year's report shows that the industry might need to re-focus on one of those requirements — healthcare safety — to ensure providers feel safe, well-trained and competent in their work environments and that patients feel secure in their care."
Additional insights from the report include:
- Stress Levels Have Decreased After the Peak of the Pandemic But Remain High: While negative feelings from HCPs have decreased since 2021, they are still remarkably high as we continue to face new COVID-19 variants. Sixty-three percent of the HCPs surveyed said they are exhibiting negative feelings (e.g., "Stressed", "Burnt-out", "Exhausted") at work, and only a quarter of HCPs feel "Safe" in their roles. Forty-four percent of the HCPs surveyed are feeling worse about their level of day-to-day stress than the previous year.
- Ongoing Staffing and Patient Challenges are Perpetuating Burnout: Issues of understaffing, patient volume, workload, hours and administrative burdens are the top reasons why HCPs (primarily providers) reported feeling burnt-out, exhausted, or distracted at work. A more troubling trend, many of the HCPs surveyed said they believe that patients are refusing recommended care (60%), behaving poorly (53%) and becoming combative (46%) more frequently compared to last year. Almost two-thirds (63%) are concerned that they will be injured at work as a result.
- Proper Disposal of Medical Waste is Essential but Misunderstood: While 95% of the HCPs surveyed agree that improper disposal of medical waste puts the physical safety of HCP workers at risk, only 33% strongly agree that they have a solid understanding of how their organization handles this type of waste. Improper handling and disposal are recognized as major concerns, which can negatively impact both the safety of workers and patients, but a shortage of personnel is hindering the possibility of top-quality care.
- Risks to the Environment Cannot Be Overlooked: Over 90% of the HCPs surveyed agree that improper medical/biohazardous waste management can harm the environment and/or have long-lasting impacts on health and well-being. Despite recognizing the harmful impacts on the environment, 37% of the HCPs said they do not believe their organizations are doing enough to reduce those impacts. Many do not believe their organizations have innovative practices (60%) or enough staff and monetary resources for proper regulated medical/biohazardous waste disposal (59%).
- The Rise of At-Home Care Generates New Challenges For Healthcare Workers: Nearly all HCPs surveyed agree that at-home care settings introduce new challenges for proper disposal of pharmaceutical and medical waste and the ability to provide the best care. Unhygienic conditions, entering/working alone, and in-home violence are seen as the three biggest risks to HCP worker safety in at-home care settings.
- Amidst an Opioid Epidemic, Drug Diversion Requires Proactive Measures: Alongside a worsening opioid epidemic, 95% of the HCPs surveyed believe that many healthcare consumers keep their leftover prescription drugs for future use and don't know how to properly dispose of them (93%). Many consumers are not as familiar with the dangers of drug diversion or its impact on the opioid epidemic, with just 77% of respondents saying that drug diversion puts the community at risk, compared to 92% of HCPs.
These findings emphasize the need for a greater awareness of HCP and patient safety and what specific aspects of daily care could be improved to protect their health and well-being.
This study surveyed 500 healthcare professionals, including 400 healthcare practitioners (those who have direct patient interaction and currently practice as a physician, nurse, or another related role) and 100 administrators (those who are currently at an executive leadership or senior management level in a healthcare organization.) Both audiences were required to work in an organization that deals with medical waste management in some regard, whether they are personally responsible for decision making or not. For the first time, this study surveyed 700 healthcare consumers as well.
For more information about Stericycle and to access the Healthcare Workplace Safety Trend Report and multimedia assets, visit Stericycle's website.
Stericycle, Inc., is a U.S. based business-to-business services company and leading provider of compliance-based solutions that protects people and brands, promotes health and well-being and safeguards the environment. Stericycle serves customers in North America and Europe with solutions for regulated waste and compliance services and secure information destruction. For more information about Stericycle, please visit stericycle.com.
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