What is the occupational risk of being a health care worker?

Turns out, we don’t know for sure.

“Despite the very real risk that exists for all health care workers,” writes surgeon Pauline Chen in her recent column, “the actual number of deaths from occupational injuries or infections is unknown. Unlike policemen and firefighters and other high-risk occupations, health care workers have no national registry to track deaths caused by infections or injuries acquired on the job.”

We can only extrapolate from the data, and from that, it’s estimated that upwards of 300 health care workers die each year from their occupation, such as a disease contracted from within a hospital.

That’s a lot, but as Dr. Chen reminds us, “no one forced you to sign your contract.”

Indeed, most of us knew what we were getting into, and accept that risk.

✓ Join 150,000+ subscribers
✓ Get KevinMD's most popular stories