Thursday, March 18, 2010
Annals of Dumb Science
This article from JACS attempts to solve the historically vexing surgical conundrum of whether double gloving has a negative impact on manual dexterity. A lot of surgeons I know double glove for both safety reasons and to theoretically reduce infectious complications (studies have shown that gloves develop at least micro-perforations after 30 minutes of operating time). I personally don't double glove. My fingers get numb after about fifteen minutes, for one thing. For another, it just "doesn't feel right". I don't feel comfortable. I hate it. So I wear one layer of the orthopedic gloves, which are a little thicker than the standard glove.
This article in JACS utilized pegboards and sharp pointy tips and whatever else to compare dexterity and tactile sensitivity scores of participants wearing either two gloves or one. I just love scientific phrasing: "Categorical and continuous variables were identified, general linear prediction models were computed, and the influence of glove status was analyzed as an independent variable. Glove status did not affect dexterity performance scores (p = 0.57) after accounting for the influence of age on score variation (p < 0.001). Comparing ulnar and radial surfaces of the index finger for 2-point discrimination, no difference was detected between trials (p < 0.66), nor was an interaction effect detected with glove status (p = 0.40)." Well that's great. Their little study showed no difference in the scores in either group.
Anyone with at least 14 functional brain cells ought to look at an article like this and say: Who cares! The kind of gloves you wear and how many layers you prefer is an entirely subjective decision making process. Are people who like wearing one glove going to all of a sudden change? Are they just going to be so overwhelmed by the rigorous science of the article they they will feel utterly compelled to pull on another layer of gloves?
I mean, you could put together a gazillion studies like this, relating to subjective operating experience. How about a study that compares manual dexterity in surgeons wearing Prada sunglasses vs. a control group? Or one comparing surgeon error rates when the temperature in the OR suite is 85 degrees vs. 65? How about one that compares the manual dexterity of surgeons in boxers with those in tighty whiteys vs. another group that goes commando? Would results change surgeon underwear preferences in the future?
I realize these journals have to fill their content quotas every month but sometimes it gets a little ridiculous.