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Ergonomics in surgery

While a surgeon operates, they focus on their craft to ensure the best possible outcome for the patient, even if this means standing for hours and making repetitive, strenuous movements. While this commitment to the work helps patient outcomes, the stress surgery puts on a surgeon’s body can cause work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs).

Surgeons suffer from WMSDs at alarmingly high rates. Doctors face wrist and finger strain, as well as neck strain, back pain, and shoulder tension. Sixty-six percent of doctors performing open surgery can develop issues, and the rates for conventional laparoscopy are even more worrisome with 73 percent reporting issues, according to US National Library of Medicine National Institute of Health.

To help keep surgeons’ most important tool -- their bodies -- healthy ergonomic instruments need to be used in the operating room. The correct ergonomic guidelines in regards to tools, table height, and surgeon posture can help prevent tissue damage in surgeons.

Surgeons performing surgery

How Surgical Tools Are Harming Surgeons

During some surgeries, doctors can use the same tool for hours. That tool is likely thin and doesn’t contort to the hand. This can cause damage to a surgeon’s hand tissue.

For example. BiPAD’s medical device, which replaces the bipolar cord, helps a surgeon use bipolar forceps without foot activation. Instead, surgeons can activate the tool with a simple customized ergonomically correct finger movement. This helps reduce surgeon fatigue, saves money by reducing OR time, and is safer for patients because there is less blood loss while the surgeon searches for the foot pedal.

A surgeon’s posture during an operation also can cause them chronic pain. Surgeons need training not just on medical procedures but also on how to position their bodies while performing the procedure.

What You Can Do To Fix The Problem

Protecting surgeons in the OR starts before they enter the hospital. Medical schools need to properly train surgeons to help set them up for long, healthy careers.

Duke University School of Medicine launched an ergonomics program to improve its students’ health. The program will teach future surgeons how to stand or position themselves during surgery in a way that helps them execute their functions but reduce strain on their bodies. The program also fits every surgeon for better loupes to reduce neck strain while looking down into the surgical field.

Hospitals can help protect its staff by implementing similar training programs about positioning in the OR and purchasing ergonomic surgical tools, such as the BiPAD® medical device, integrated cord and foot pedal.


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