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Medical School Risks

Discussion in 'Medical Students - MD' started by darkmatter, May 9, 2002.

  1. darkmatter

    darkmatter Senior Member

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    I'm curious if anyone in medical school worries about contracting a disease. I had a discussion with my younger cousins and most of them say that they don't want to get into medicine because of that fear.
     
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  3. Long Hair and a Beard

    Long Hair and a Beard Obsessionist

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    Well, theoretically at least, you do run the risk of contracting the contagious diseases: You could get influenza virus from a sneezing patient, or scabies from an infected child, but that's about the most serious diseases you could contract from droplets or direct contact.

    If there are more serious contagious diseases around, then you can always work with a mask or gloves. And microbiologists who work with lethal bacteria or viruses get vaccinated against them.

    Needle-stick injuries are more serious with risk of HIV or Hepatitis B transmission. The latter is amply covered by the vaccine, which is mandatory for all health personnel. As for HIV, the risk of getting infected from a needle or scalpel injury is 1 in 300. And you can further reduce the risk by taking zidovudine or other anti-retroviral drug immediately following the injury. And then, prevention is always better - try not to get pierced in the first place.

    Hope that clears matters for you.
     
  4. ramkijai

    ramkijai Member

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    What about TB? I heard a lot of MDs and RNs become PPD positive due to patient exposure? Is this true? And if so does that mean you have to take antibiotics for 6-9 months?
     
  5. Freeeedom!

    Freeeedom! Senior Member

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    I have not met a single one.
     
  6. UCMonkey

    UCMonkey Senior Member

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    </font><blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><hr /><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Originally posted by ramkijai:
    <strong>What about TB? I heard a lot of MDs and RNs become PPD positive due to patient exposure? Is this true? And if so does that mean you have to take antibiotics for 6-9 months?</strong></font><hr /></blockquote><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">I've spoken to a bunch of MD's and RN's, and I think that is generally true. Personally, I became PPD positive in 5th grade! I guess there was some kid that had it and exposed everyone. I know they put me on some sort of prophylaxis for almost a year! Either way, its saves me the needle stick of a PPD every couple years :)
     
  7. Mary the Med Student

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    I have been stuck by a needle - that I had just been using to draw blood on an HIV + patient. Her viral load was undetectable, thank God, but I still had to go on prophylaxis. The AZT/3TC combo is horrible. I had to go on Zofran to control the nausea and vomiting, I'm constantly tired due to the AZT, and my Hct dipped somewhat. I only have five more days to go.

    And I've met three attending who are PPD positive.

    16 out of 180 people in my class have been stuck, usually by a surgical resident during suturing.

    So don't let anyone tell you there are no risks.

    -Mary
     
  8. Vince

    Vince Senior Member

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    Darkmatter,

    I was stuck by a needle after drawing blood on a patient about 7 years ago when I was a Paramedic student.(wow...has it been that long?) I didn't contract any diseases from the stick, and it was the only needle stick I had in 8 years in EMS...and the back of a bouncing ambulance is an easy location to get stuck. I worried for months and months afterwards of course, like many do after a needle stick, and in that time I did a lot of research so I would better understand risks, etc. Obviously, there are risks going into health care, but if you are careful, these risks are very minimal, especially if you take the necessary precautions, don't recap needles, use universal precautions, etc. I know many healthcare workers who have never been stuck with a "sharps."

    The three bloodborne diseases people worry about are Hepatitis B, HIV, and Hepatitis C. There is a vaccine for B, your chances are very slim for contracting HIV from an infected needle(as Devashish pointed out). I feel that the bloodborne disease to really worry about is Hepatitis C, because many people might be infected and be unaware of their status. Patients infected with Hep C may be asymptomatic for many years and not know it. TB is always going to be a concern, but again, taking precautions reduces the risk, and prophylaxis after exposure is available.

    If medicine is something you are really interested in, worrying about contracting a disease should be the least of your worries(in my humble opinion).

    Also, the higher risks are associated with hollow-bore needles, like those from venipuncture needles or catheters, and are much lower for scalpels and suturing needles.

    K Myers, MSI
    WesternU/COMP
     
  9. Long Hair and a Beard

    Long Hair and a Beard Obsessionist

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    Well I did not mentioned TB because everyone here is PPD positive, if not from previous TB exposure, then from the BCG vaccine. And TB is so rampant here that we will have to be wary of almost every patient if we were finicky about TB exposure. I guess one of the clinical skills they teach here is to forget about TB exposure. :p In fact, one of my classmates has active TB and is on medication, but it rarely occurs to us that he could be infective. The same applies to other infections too. Maybe it is one of the perks of growing up in a developing country - you don't need to worry about infectious diseases since you already have had each one of them. <img border="0" alt="[Clappy]" title="" src="graemlins/clappy.gif" />
     
  10. darkmatter

    darkmatter Senior Member

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    So far, I've been volunteering at the ER and I have not contracted anything (after going through all the safety measures) so I agree that it won't be much of a concern. Nontheless, there must be some way of monitoring incidences of contraction as well as tracking common nosocomial diseases.
     
  11. Vince

    Vince Senior Member

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    darkmatter,

    Many of your questions can probably be answered by going to the Center for Disease Control(CDC) website....check it out and do a search...

    <a href="http://www.cdc.gov" target="_blank">www.cdc.gov</a>
     
  12. DrMom

    DrMom Official Mom of SDN
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    </font><blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><hr /><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Originally posted by darkmatter:
    <strong>I'm curious if anyone in medical school worries about contracting a disease. I had a discussion with my younger cousins and most of them say that they don't want to get into medicine because of that fear.</strong></font><hr /></blockquote><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">It seems to me that anyone who is that concerned about this is wise in avoiding medicine.

    Obviously there are risks, but you can't worry about them all of the time.
     
  13. Guitarzan the Jungle Man

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    Look, there are risks in all professions. Anything worth doing is going to involve risk. Needle sticks occur--OR's are worse than other places. If it happens you will probably just get over it and go about your business. I would have to agree with the above--hep C is the one most worry about. HIV is hard to contract and most know about patient status and are much more careful about it. TB--take the meds and go on. Just thingk, no more TB tests <img border="0" title="" alt="[Wink]" src="wink.gif" />
     

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