Research Article

Operating practices of and precautions taken by orthopaedic surgeons to avoid infection with HIV and hepatitis B virus during surgery.

BMJ 1990; 301 doi: (Published 21 July 1990) Cite this as: BMJ 1990;301:167
  1. M J Porteous
  1. Department of Orthopaedics, King's College Hospital, London.


    OBJECTIVE--To assess the precautions being taken by orthopaedic surgeons to avoid becoming infected with HIV or hepatitis B virus by their patients during surgery. DESIGN--Pilot study of 50 surgeons selected at random followed by a postal questionnaire completed anonymously. SUBJECTS--All 1220 fellows and associates of the British Orthopaedic Association working in the United Kingdom. RESULTS--800 (67%) Questionnaires were returned. 511 Surgeons has sustained a needlestick injury or had got body fluid in their eye within the past month despite 430 regularly wearing eye protection during major surgery. Seven had definitely and four possibly been infected with hepatitis B virus by a patient while operating, and 582 had been immunised against hepatitis B. Only 75 surgeons were satisfied with the present guidelines on testing patients for HIV antibodies. CONCLUSIONS--Although most surgeons who replied took some precautions when operating, most still exposed themselves to considerable risk from patients not known to be infected with HIV or hepatitis B virus.