Alcohol Abuse among Surgeons
A new study finds that about 15 percent of surgeons in the United States have alcohol abuse or dependency problems. Surgeons who exhibited signs of alcoholism were 45 percent more likely to admit that they had made a major medical error in the past three months.
“Surgery is a stressful business. There are people who turn to alcohol to help deal with their stress,” said Dr. Edward Livingston, a professor at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, who was not involved in the study.
The researchers sent out a survey to more than 25,000 surgeons across the country. Dr. Michael Oreskovich and his team at the University of Washington asked a series of questions about work, lifestyle and mood. Several questions were used to screen for alcohol abuse or dependency. The study did not find out why alcohol problems might be more common among surgeons, rather than other physicians. The abuse and dependency were connected with depression and professional fatigue, or burnout.
“The nature of the beast is that the percent of emergencies, the percent of after hour work, the actual scheduled work itself all require an energy and concentration that is really different than a lot of the other specialties,” Oreskovich said.
The study also learned that 25 percent of female surgeons reported problem