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A study being published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that most surgeons who have accidentally stuck themselves with needles while performing surgery, failed to report their injuries. This is a major problem because this lack of reporting is putting many patients and doctors at risk for blood-borne illnesses, such as AIDS and hepatitis.

Most surgeons say the main reason for needle stick injuries was because they were being rushed. Also, many surgeons did not believe that immediate medical attention could prevent infections. But these thoughts are untrue, timely treatment with antiviral drugs can prevent chronic infections.

Julie L. Gerbeding, director of the CDC, thinks this study shows further evidence that protection measures need to be strengthened. Trainees need to be given more instruction on safety techniques and what to do if they become injured.

An estimated 800,000 needle stick injuries occur each year among health care workers in this country. Of the participants in Dr. Makary’s confidential survey, 99 percent had experienced at least one needle stick injury by the end of the fifth and last year of surgical training (the average was eight such injuries). Of these, 51 percent failed to report their injuries to an employee health service as some hospitals require.

Of the health care workers that did report, more than half of them did so because they were working with a patient that was at high risk for infections. Many surgeons reported when they were stuck by needles if someone else was aware of the injury.

If you feel you have been injured due to a surgeon’s negligence, please contact an attorney.

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