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Archive September 2019 XX, No. 9

Ergonomics in the OR: Protecting Your Surgeons

Limit your physicians' risk of suffering career-threatening injuries from the physical strain of surgery.

Daniel Cook

Daniel Cook, Editor-in-Chief


Pamela Bevelhymer, RN, BSN, CNOR
COMFORT MEASURES Set up your ORs so surgeons of all shapes, sizes and sexes can operate in comfort.

Surgeons come in all shapes, sizes and sexes with individual ergonomic needs. Those instruments designed for the burly 6-foot-6 surgeon who played middle linebacker in college aren't ideally suited for the petite 5-foot-4 mother of two, who possesses just as much grit but not as much grip. It's important for you and your surgeons to keep their comfort in mind so they can continue to operate, and operate well, instead of succumbing to debilitating repetitive stress injuries.

Erica Sutton, MD, was nearly a victim of her chosen profession. She was too young of a surgeon for her shoulders to ache and her hands to throb. Or so she thought. "The pain began during my residency — I hadn't even begun my laparoscopic fellowship," recalls the associate professor of general surgery at University of Louisville (Ky.) School of Medicine. "It became obvious that I had to figure out how to operate comfortably so my career wasn't over before it started."

Like many surgeons, Dr. Sutton focused on patient care at the expense of her own well-being. That attitude, thankfully, is changing as more surgeons are realizing that in order to take care of their patients, they must first take care of themselves.

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