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Injuries Among Surgeons Carry Hidden Costs

Cora Nucci, for HealthLeaders Media, December 2, 2013

Somewhat counterintuitively, technological advances that have led to surgeries such as knee arthroscopy increase the risk of injury for surgeons. That's because these surgeries take a toll on the muscles that control fine motor movements, which can cramp and strain from positions such as "holding a camera all day" in the OR, Sethi explains.

Yet surgeons are not inclined to report injuries when they occur. Sethi says that's because surgeons often have independent employment contracts with hospitals that typically do not mention what happens with on-the-job injuries. Surgeons often don't know where to report such issues, he adds. "Most hospitals don't have anything set up" in the way of a formal reporting structure.

Cost Implications
I wonder if ego also comes into play. Known for their competitive spirit, surgeons as a group, and orthopedic surgeons in particular, project resilience. It's not hard to imagine that they would prefer to "play hurt" rather than bother with tracking down which OSHA forms to file. That can be costly. According to the report:

"Physician injury has substantial economic consequences as missed work can reduce the supply of orthopaedic care and result in large costs associated with the investments involving training personnel, and overhead in each surgeon."
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