What We're Reading: Nurses Suspended; Viruses in Infant Guts; Surgical Residents Face Discrimination

April 16, 2020

Several nurses have been suspended for refusing to treat patients with coronavirus disease 2019 without N95 masks; researchers found virus particles in infants’ guts 1 month after birth; surgical residents face racial/ethnic and religious discrimination.

California Nurses Suspended

Nurses in California are being suspended for refusing to treat patients with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) without N95 masks, the AP reports. According to the National Nurses Union, 10 nurses at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California, are being paid but not allowed to return to work pending the outcome of a human resources investigation. N95 masks can filter 95% of all airborne particles, but administrators at the hospital did not provide nurses with the masks, claiming they were unnecessary, according to nurse Mike Gulick.

Viruses Detectable in Infants’ Guts

Within 1 month after birth, infants’ guts are colonized by detectable viruses, according to a study published in Nature. In some cases, these viruses can lead to gastrointestinal disorders. Researchers used fluorescent staining of virus-like particles to show that although there are initially no or few particles at birth, 1 month later particle numbers increase to 109 per gram, and these numbers appear to persist throughout the infant’s life. They found that stool samples from babies exclusively fed formula exhibited more viruses compared with those fed breastmilk, supporting prior reports that found breastmilk to be protective against viral infections.

Surgical Residents Face Racial, Religious Discrimination

Survey results published in JAMA Surgery found a large proportion of nonwhite residents in general surgery training experience racial/ethnic discrimination. Of the nearly 6000 survey respondents, 23.7% reported experiencing discrimination based on race/ethnicity or religion. Around 70% of black respondents said they had experienced discrimination, as did 46% of Asian respondents. According to survey results, 62.4% of black residents reported being mistaken for nonphysicians while 25% experienced slurs or hurtful comments, most commonly from patients and families of those being treated.