Most of the surgical students stick themselves with needles and sharp instruments while in training. Most of the resulting injuries could be infectious and very often they are unreported.
This is according to a new study by reported Martin Makary, M.D., a surgeon at the Johns Hopkins Hospital, and colleagues, in the June 28 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
These doctors are risking their health and that of their families and patients to the threat of transmitting the diseases including AIDS, hepatitis and many other blood-borne illnesses.
The study of almost 700 surgeons-in-training at 17 U.S. medical centers found that 582 had experienced a needle stick injury. In more than half the cases, the needles were being used for high-risk patients -- those with particularly dangerous infections, such as hepatitis or HIV. And 297 of the 578 most recent incidents had not been reported to an employee health service, including 15 of the 91 cases involving high-risk patients.
A survey by Dr. Makary and colleagues revealed that young surgeons didn't report such injuries for a range of reasons, their being rushed was the chief reason the surgical residents cited for the injuries, which were mostly self-inflicted. Other reasons included being too busy and believing that reporting and getting timely medical attention would not prevent infection. Many a times surgeons feel the reason for not reporting injuries, was, that doing so would take too much time, could jeopardize career opportunities and might cause a loss of face among peers.
"It's been long suspected, but no one truly appreciated the magnitude of the problem," said Martin Makary, "Every surgeon is destined to be on anti-HIV medications and is at risk for contracting HIV and hepatitis at far higher rates than we suspected."
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