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Discrimination Comes in All Shapes and Sizes

By Daniel Foster27 Feb 2024

by Dan Foster

The author of this blog is a non-religious person, yet even he could say that discrimination may be the oldest human sin. It was practiced as far back as ancient Sumer, where the laws differed for rich and poor (the wealthy being punished less severely for a given crime).

The Sumerian Code of Hammurabi was the first recorded legal codex, so perhaps it was laudable for that, but it made yet another prejudicial distinction, not just for wealth—but for gender.

So how far have we come in 8000 years?

Thirty-eight percent of surgeons reported that their hand size was a detriment to learning surgical procedure. Women statistically have smaller hands than men, to the point that female residents reported having to use two hands for instruments that require only one hand for most men. Simply, the instruments are designed for men, not women. Not only are the tools designed for men, they are purchased for men. So hospitals must share a portion of the blame with device manufacturers.

So in the modern world where governments strive for equity (or at least act like they do), how can an industry as highly regulated as medicine still have an 8000-year-old problem?

The US FDA has continuously relied on male test subjects to confirm ergonomic propriety, so in the world where every life-saving surgery is as unique as the patient, female surgeons are still relegated to using one-size-fits-all tools.1

Sadly, this problem extends well beyond medicine. For example, in 2006, a pair of female fire fighters took legal action against their city because, though female-sized protective clothing was available, the city only provided ill-fitted male clothing. Bear in mind fire-fighting is a profession in which improper protective gear can result in death.

As you would expect, there is a plethora of legal precedent against this discrimination. We encourage you to see the reference below for the full article as it was presented by JAMA (both medical and legal collaborators).

Thanks to JAMA for taking this issue head-on, and as always…

Thank you for reading.

               Transonic Systems Inc

                        The Measure of Better Results


Reference: Braman Anna, et al. “Should Current Laws Be Revised to Address Occupational Hazards Caused by Hand-Tool Size Mismatch Among Surgeons?” Journal of the American Medical Association. Published Online: February 7, 2024. doi:10.1001/jamasurg.2023.7448