The New York Times’ Tara Parker-Pope, writing in the paper’s Well blog, reports on a survey of recent medical school graduates who trained to become surgeons. Johns Hopkins University researchers found that 59% of the grads reported having been stuck by a needle at least once during medical school, and roughly half of the needlestick victims didn’t report their injuries to hospital officials, often because of the time and paperwork involved in making reports.
Needlesticks put both patients and healthcare workers at risk for contracting HIV or hepatitis C. Medical students are at high risk of getting stuck by a needle, but may be less likely than other healthcare workers to report the injury, Parker-Pope notes:
Injections, intravenous lines, biopsies and the sewing up of incisions are mundane tasks often relegated to medical students, who typically have less experience and skill at handling needles. But when students do get pricked by a needle, they are often being graded on their overall performance, giving them less incentive to report the injury.
Solutions include reducing the need to use sharp needles and other sharp tools, and simplifying the reporting process so that officials can respond to needlesticks appropriately.
In other news:
BBC: In China, 58 people have been charged with covering up a mine explosion that killed 34 people in Hebei province a few weeks before the Olympic Games.
Reuters: Two studies suggest that workers in laundry-detergent manufacturing facilities are at greater risk of developing respiratory problems, due to exposure to enzymes.
EHS Today: Nearly 9% of surgeons responding to a survey reported having committed a major error over the previous three months, and researchers have identified a relationship between errors and surgeons’ reported burnout and depression.
Kaiser Health News: The Senate healthcare bill now under consideration includes a requirement that employers provide unpaid reasonable break time for nursing mothers for a year after they give birth.
Associated Press: Many employers are working to prevent the spread of swine flu in their work places; tactics include making it easier for workers to stay home, limiting in-person meetings, discouraging handshakes, and educating employees about hygiene.