Surgeons put themselves at risk, despite evidence


February 19, 2003
Blog Entry, Health

Exposure to blood and body fluids while operating places surgeons at risk, yet a large number of doctors continue to put themselves in danger despite knowing the evidence, according to a University of Alberta study. Double gloving is a safety measure, which decreases the risk of exposure. However, many surgeons do not incorporate this precaution into their personal practice. This study, which is published in the current edition of the American Journal of Surgery evaluates surgeons’ gloving practices and hepatitis status. From the University of Alberta:
Surgeons put themselves at risk, despite evidence

Exposure to blood and body fluids while operating places surgeons at risk, yet a large number of doctors continue to put themselves in danger despite knowing the evidence, according to a University of Alberta study.

Double gloving is a safety measure, which decreases the risk of exposure. However, many surgeons do not incorporate this precaution into their personal practice. This study, which is published in the current edition of the American Journal of Surgery evaluates surgeons’ gloving practices and hepatitis status.

Researchers, including lead author and general U of A surgery resident Ronald St. Germaine and his supervisor Chris de Gara, director of general surgery at the U of A, sent a questionnaire to 268 consultant surgeons and residents in surgical specialties. A second questionnaire, containing information on safety issues, was sent to the general surgeons (consultants and residents) who did not double glove to learn whether this information would change their practice.

The researchers found that more than half or the surgeons do not double glove (none of the urologists double glove versus 87% of orthopedic surgeons). The most common reasons sited for not double gloving was a decrease in manual dexterity and comfort.

Research shows that when surgeons double glove, the risk of breaking through the rubber decreases from 34.7 per cent to 3.8 per cent. Even once the researchers presented clear evidence of the risks, only 23 per cent of general surgeons would change their practice and double glove.


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