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Occupational Injuries Among Orthopedic Surgeons

Occupational Injuries Among Orthopedic Surgeons

Orthopedic surgery requires surgeons to spend many hours per week in body positions that are known to contribute to musculoskeletal injuries. Although efforts have been made to improve ergonomics and reduce strains that occur during surgery, these techniques are often not widely adopted. Adherence to ergonomic guidelines can be difficult, and many surgeons are unaware of current guidelines. “The combination of these factors suggests that surgeons are at high risk for occupational injuries, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, back sprains, and torn ligaments,” says Manish K. Sethi, MD. “The demand for orthopedic services is growing, but we’re in the midst of a shortage of orthopedic surgeons. Injuries to orthopedists could have substantial consequences for the healthcare system.” Examining the Issue In the Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery, Dr. Sethi and colleagues assessed occupational injuries among orthopedic surgeons using an electronic survey that was sent to orthopedists in Tennessee. “There have been very few studies that have explored occupational injuries in physicians, and no studies to our knowledge have specifically involved orthopedics,” says Dr. Sethi. “Our analysis is among the first contributions to the literature on injuries among orthopedists, an area that clearly needs greater awareness.” The survey was designed to capture information about respondents’ subspecialty, practice setting, and length of time in practice as well as basic information about any injuries that were sustained. Information was also collected on how injuries affected surgeons with regard to days of work lost and if any institutional resources were made available during recovery. The study team found that 44% of respondents had sustained one or more injuries at the workplace at...
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