Survey finds some surgeons have alcohol abuse problems

There's No Substitute for Experience

Medical mistakes can happen for a number of reasons: A patient could not be properly monitored while at the hospital. There could be a communication error between nurses and doctors. Staff could not be up to par on training. And, if this isn't frightening enough, a recent study also found that some surgeons may have alcohol dependency issues.

According to a study that was recently published in the Archives of Surgery, out of the 7,197 surgeons who answered a survey regarding their mood, lifestyle and work, 1,112 met the criteria of a person with an alcohol dependency issue. This equates to slightly more than 15 percent of those who participated in the survey having potential alcohol abuse problems.

And while this is certainly not a huge pool of respondents, the truth is that more than 25,000 surgeons were actually included in the survey. However, the majority chose not to answer the questions.

“Surgeons who drink more heavily are potentially less likely to respond, which might underestimate the prevalence of alcohol abuse,” a professor of surgery and a member of the Journal of the American Medical Association wrote in an editorial to accompany the published study.

And while the lead author of the study did note that it is still very rare for a person to be injured due to a surgeon being intoxicated, an earlier study that was published in April found a connection between excessive drinking and medical errors.

That study looked at eight surgeons and 16 medical students and found that those who were hung-over from a previous night of drinking made 19 errors on a virtual reality procedure. Those who did not consume alcohol the previous night only made eight errors on the virtual reality procedure.

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