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January 6, 1989


JAMA. 1989;261(1):129-136. doi:10.1001/jama.1989.03420010141057

CHAIRPERSON'S COLUMN  As participants in the provision of health care to hospital and clinic patients, medical students often put themselves at risk for contracting infectious diseases. There is a 19% to 24% risk of acquiring hepatitis B when e antigen is present following needlestick exposure.1 Health care workers with no identifiable risk factors have acquired AIDS from nonneedlestick exposure to blood or body fluids of infected patients.2 Many medical students pursue electives at inner-city hospitals where exposure to tuberculosis is common and results in a positive skin test and a year of isoniazid treatment.To reduce the chances of disease transmission, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has recommended universal infection control precautions for health care workers' contacts with all patients.3 These precautions have not been fully implemented or rigorously enforced at many US medical centers. Last June, the AMA Medical Student Section Assembly urged that (1)