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The Doctor Is In (But Shouldn’t Be)

Mon, 10/18/2010 - 7:04am
Pauline W. Chen, MD

One winter toward the end of my training, I came down with a cold. At first, the constant coughing and runny nose made me miserable; then they became tiring. To decrease the chances of spreading my germs, I had to tie on a mask every time I came into contact with patients, wash my hands so frequently my skin became raw and wipe down the phone receivers with alcohol when I answered a page. Unable to scratch, wipe or blow in the operating room without contaminating my hands, I learned that for a surgeon with a runny nose, there are no palatable options for the uncontrollable nasal effluvium; I had to wear two masks every time I scrubbed up for a case.

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