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Editor's Correspondence
October 8, 2001

Color-blind Physicians and the Detection of Blood in Body Products

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Copyright 2001 American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved. Applicable FARS/DFARS Restrictions Apply to Government Use.2001

Arch Intern Med. 2001;161(18):2265-2266. doi:

Reiss et al,1 in their study "Impact of Color Blindness on Recognition of Blood in Body Fluids," demonstrated that there is a very real difficulty for physicians with color blindness. In another study on the subject that was published in 1997,2 18 of 40 physicians with the deficiency reported difficulties in detecting blood in body products. That study was designed to determine the range of difficulties that physicians with color blindness encounter in their clinical work. The physicians, 35 of whom were primary care physicians,were self-selected by answering letters in the medical press. The most common difficulty that they reported was widespread body color changes, such as pallor, cyanosis, and jaundice. Those with a mild deficiency reported fewer difficulties (P<.03). There is also evidence that the number of physicians with congenital color blindness is approximately the same as for the population as a whole, ie, 8% of males.3

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