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Injuries Among Surgeons Carry Hidden Costs

Cora Nucci, for HealthLeaders Media, December 2, 2013

The study, based on surveys sent electronically to every orthopedic surgeon in Tennessee (28% of 495 responded), found that:


Manish K. Sethi, MD

Manish K. Sethi, MD
  • 44% of surgeons had sustained at least one occupational injury in their career and 10% of respondents missed work due to their injuries
  • 25% reported an injury to the hand, followed in frequency by the lower back (19%), neck (10%) and shoulder (7%)
  • 38% of injured respondents reported no institutional resources available to support them as they recovered

"Some of these injuries were significant, having an impact on operating room performance and causing the surgeon to lose three or four weeks of work," Sethi says in a Vanderbilt University publication.

At 35, Sethi has been a surgeon for a decade, but he has so far evaded any "real injuries." A member of the orthopedic trauma team at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, he does acknowledge some occasional hand stiffness, however.

No Relief via Technology
Technologies to alleviate the strain on surgeons' bodies are scarce. Aside from OR tables that apply traction and minimize the physical force a surgeon must exert, there has been "no game-changer in over 50 years," says Sethi.

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