View Full Version : Health exposure risks as a physician
03-17-2003, 02:56 PM
Of the people affected by the recent outbreak of an unknown respiratory virus, 90% are health care workers. What are your views on the risks associated with working in the health field?
Edited the subject to get rid of the all-caps and make the title more descriptive. -Ian
03-17-2003, 09:29 PM
I hope you don't mind my throwing this in: what should doctors who are infected by patients do with regards to informing future patients. For example, I read about a doctor who was infected with Hepatitis (not sure which form) when a syringe pierced his glove. There was concern as to how he should deal with the situation....
Anyhow, to return to your original question, tappety tap, I think the risks are an "occupational hazard," so to speak. I think that infection is relatively rare, though(except with cases such as the atypical pneumonia).
03-18-2003, 02:33 AM
As a health care worker (physician, nurse, physiotherapist, whatever), you are going to be put in multiple situations during both your training and your career where you are at increased risks to your personal health.
When it comes down to it though, this risk is something that most people take on as part of a career in a service industry. Firefighters intrinsically put themselves at risk each day on the job, as do construction workers, those employed in industrial jobs, police officers, etc. If you are working in an environment with lots of sick people, you are at risk of getting sick yourself.
Still, there are lots of things you can do to minimize your risk. Just as I wouldn't hop into a construction site without steel-toed boots, a helmet, and all the other goodies, I wouldn't enter a room with an MRSA-positive patient without my protective gown and gloves. When I scrubbed into a surgery with an HIV-positive patient, I made darn sure to double-glove, and wear the fancy face mask with the eye-shield in case of any spray or splatter. These are things I should be doing regardless according to universal health precautions, but are particularly crucial in a patient who you KNOW is HIV-positive, instead of one who you assume might be.
But, this is part of the risk you take on when working in health care. You can take steps to minimize it, or even choose fields with less invasive procedures or minimal patient contact, but during med school you certainly will be putting yourself at risk while on clinical duties.
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