Perceptions of specialist doctors of the ability of doctors with colour vision deficiency to practise their specialty safely
Some doctors with severe congenital colour vision deficiency (CCVD) may experience difficulty in colour discrimination that can affect their decision-making. In the absence of evidence-based guidelines, learners with CCVD are arbitrarily debarred from specialising in some disciplines. This cross-sectional, anonymous, questionnaire-based study asked specialists from all over the country if doctors with CCVD should avoid specialising in their respective disciplines. Of 218 responses, 80 (36.7%) said they should avoid it, citing colour discrimination as critical. The 32 (14.7%) participants who were unsure and 106 (48.6%) who said that CCVD would not be a problem gave reasons that mirrored those in the literature: the degree of deficiency is variable; experience helps; automation, history-taking, close observation, good illumination, contrast, touch, and peer-corroboration can reduce dependency on colour. Awareness of the deficiency and finding ways to compensate for it during training may mitigate errors and safeguard patients. Instead of blocking people with CCVD from admission to some specialties, specialists should consider these findings and support learners who are aware of their deficiency and still wish to specialise in a particular discipline.
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