A study finds patients don’t mind their ER doc’s body art.
Researchers from St. Luke’s University Health Network in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania surveyed emergency room patients who rated the providers on a five point Likert scale on their perception of competence, professionalism, caring, approachability, trustworthiness, and reliability in their doctor. Their findings found patients had “no perceived difference” in the above metrics, “and assigned top box performance in all domains >75% of the time, regardless of physician appearance.”
No, not so fast. Although body art is beautiful, and accessorizing with piercings can make our dreary scrubs pop, the average physician is fighting more and more these days to capture the faith of the patient who keeps turning to the web for medical advice.
The above study surveyed patients in emergency rooms….a setting in which patients are desperate to receive care in an emergency and are grateful, on most occasions. What about the oncologist who needs to give somber news about a patient’s cancer? Would patients appreciate the skull and crossbones tattoo on his neck? Probably not.
Piercings and tattoos make a statement, tell a story, or add character to the body on which they adorn. And the attention they command is why I’m such a fan. So I agree that it has no bearing on one’s “competence, professionalism, caring, approachability, trustworthiness, and reliability.” However, in many medical scenarios the patient needs to feel he is the main focus. Patients want to believe we providers wake up, eat, exercise to maintain our health, dress, and wash our hands for them. And they’re right…we do. So our personal style, statements and stories are kept to a minimum at work.
It’s unfortunate because I was really hoping to get the following Lord of the Rings tattoo of Aragorn when hubby wasn’t looking….
For more on the study see here.
A study from Germany and Synchrotron Radiation Facility, published in Scientific Reports, states that nanoparticles from toxic tattoo elements leak into the body.
Although previous studies suggested tattoo ink compounds to migrate to lymph nodes, as researchers would find pigmented lymph nodes, this was the first study that identified ink particles in nano form that leaked and deposited in distant tissues.
“The lymph nodes become tinted with the color of the tattoo. It is the response of the body to clean the site of entrance of the tattoo. What we didn’t know is that they do it in a nano form, which implies that they may not have the same behavior as the particles at a micro level. And that is the problem: we don’t know how nanoparticles react,” Bernhard Hesse, study author stated.
Tattoo ink contains multiple compounds, such as the inorganic compound titanium dioxide, heavy metals such as lead, beryllium, chromium, cobalt, nickel and arsenic, as well as preservatives. Their safety in human tissue has been controversial.
The lymphatic system is an intricate drainage system that helps clear the body of debris, toxins and unwanted materials. Lymph nodes hold the white blood cells that fight infections and act as a filter as the debris gets cleared through. Liver and kidney’s eventually handle the detoxification needed.
The consequences of tattoo ink depositing elsewhere has yet to be determined. Can it lead to cancer? Can it cause inflammation increasing heart risk?
Study author, Hiram Castillo, states, “When someone wants to get a tattoo, they are often very careful in choosing a parlor where they use sterile needles that haven’t been used previously. No one checks the chemical composition of the colors, but our study shows that maybe they should.”
Dr. Daliah says, "I'm not overly worried as people have had tattoos for decades, but some full back or body tattoos could be risky."
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Daliah Wachs is a guest contributor to GCN news. Doctor Wachs is an MD, FAAFP and a Board Certified Family Physician. The Dr. Daliah Show , is nationally syndicated M-F from 11:00 am - 2:00 pm and Saturday from Noon-1:00 pm (all central times) at GCN.