By Julia Belluz - Thursday, July 19, 2012 - 0 Comments
When patients go into the hospital for a surgery, it’s next to a miracle they ever leave the building unscathed. It’s not that hospital administrators and health professionals don’t do their best to protect patients—they do. But with the incredible complexity of surgeries and modern hospital systems, the intricate pathways of care, there are infinite possibilities for things to go wrong.
In the media, we tend to focus on the risks related to hospital-acquired infections or the wild pre-checklist days. But there’s another danger that isn’t talked about much outside of medical circles: getting a blood-borne infection, such as HIV, hep C and hep B, from your health-care provider.
Precautions are taken at every turn to make sure diseases aren’t transmitted from doctor or nurse to patient—and vice versa. And the risk of transmission is remote. Extremely, utterly, almost infinitesimally remote. To give you a sense, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the occupational risk of infection with hep C after a needlestick injury or cut is less than two per cent. That’s somewhere between the risks related to HIV (less than one per cent) and hepatitis B (six to 30 per cent, though surgeons working today would be vaccinated for hep B).
In Canada there have been no documented cases of physicians transmitting hep C or HIV to patients since modern antiviral therapies came on the scene to treat blood-borne pathogens and doctors started implementing what’s known as “universal precautions”—or avoiding contact with patients’ bodily fluids by using gloves, gowns and masks. There has been one reported case of hep B transmission, but it occurred before antivirals and universal precautions. Worldwide, the documented number of health-care worker to patient transmissions of blood-borne infections since 1991 has been “exceedingly low.”
Yet, provincial medical regulators in Canada are targeting blood-borne pathogens in surgeons. The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario just introduced a new policy that asks surgeons—and those who assist in surgery—to report if they have been tested for the blood-borne pathogens hep B, hep C, and HIV in the last year.
By macleans.ca - Friday, April 15, 2011 at 10:40 AM - 0 Comments
France helps arrest Laurent Gbagbo, while Japan’s nuclear crisis escalates to Chernobyl-levels
Vive la France!
France played a crucial role this week in the surrender and arrest of the Ivory Coast’s defeated president Laurent Gbagbo and his militiamen. With its troops on the ground, France has publicly pledged to help the troubled nation in its reconstruction. Along with its recent calls for greater NATO involvement in Libya, France has suddenly become a robust player on the international stage, flexing its muscle in the name of democracy and global stability. It’s just too bad that same spirit isn’t on display back home, where French police arrested two women under the ban on wearing face-concealing veils in public.
In the classroom
The organization that regulates Ontario’s 230,000 teachers issued a new rule this week: no more connecting with students on social media. Teachers have been warned not to “friend” their pupils on Facebook, subscribe to their Twitter accounts, or use Flickr, LinkedIn or MySpace to interact online. Give the College of Teachers an A+ on this. The student-teacher relationship belongs in a classroom, not a chat room.