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Surgeons appear blind to risk

Article-Surgeons appear blind to risk

United Kingdom — Two studies conducted by investigators from the Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at the U.K. Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals tested plastic surgeon's attitudes and habits regarding use of protective eyewear during procedures.

A multicenter study questioned plastic surgeons about their awareness of the risk of ocular contamination during skin lesion surgery which potentially put them at risk for conjunctival virus transmission. The study questionnaire then asked how frequently the surgeons wore protective eyewear during such procedures.

While respondents exhibited widespread recognition of the risk of viral transmission, the study found that most did not wear goggles except in "high risk" cases.

A companion study followed a single surgeon over an eight-month time period, cataloguing the number of ocular splashes that occurred on clean goggles during local anesthetic skin lesion surgery — then recorded the surgeon's perception of how many such splashes had occurred.

At study end, 143 procedures resulted in 42 splashes on the protective eyewear. The study surgeon was aware of splashes in only six of the 42 instances.

The study concluded that, while the majority of surgeons recognize the critical importance of eye protection, use of protective glasses during surgery was infrequent.

Investigators stressed the need for routine use of protective eyewear in order to mitigate risks to the surgeon.

For more information:

Br J Plast Surg. 2005 Dec 20

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