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US Surgeons And Alcoholism: Statistics May Be Frightening To Some
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US Surgeons And Alcoholism: Statistics May Be Frightening to Some

The man who drives the truck delivering supplies to the hospital must take drug tests- at the start of his employment and randomly to keep his job. The woman that works in the cafeteria might also need to take these drug tests as well. But, there is one group in the hospital that does not need to submit to them, at least not yet and that fact might be frightening to many people. A new study published in the February issue of the Archives of Surgery has also presented statistics that are even more troubling. Those numbers reveal how many surgeons have problems with alcohol, including the risk of alcohol dependence or abuse.

Dr. Michael Oreskovich, a clinical associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral science at the University of Washington in Seattle lead the study and wrote the accompanying paper. Oreskovich stressed that despite the statistical importance of these numbers, it should be noted that there has been no dramatic increase in the number of medical errors caused by these surgeons.

The research team used information compiled from anonymous, online surveys sent to physicians from all specialties across the United States. For their study, the team focused only on those generated by members of the American College of Surgery. Over 25,000 surveys were emailed to surgeons and other physicians but only a small number responded. Of them, Oreskovich found that overall, nearly fifteen percent of the surgeons reported problems with alcohol dependency and abuse. By gender, the breakdown revealed that the problem was more serious when the surgeon was a woman. Female surgeons who abused alcohol in some manner accounted for 26% of the total surveyed. The number for men was 14%. In the general public, alcoholics account for between 8 and 12% of the population.

Critics of the study pointed out a number of design flaws including the fact that it had such a low response rate. It also relied on self reported, online and anonymous information that could have technically been submitted by virtually anyone. The researchers also eliminated those who had what were deemed risky behaviors with alcohol but no real definable problems. Despite Oreskovich's assurances to the contrary, the study also showed that surgeons who admitted to having made a major medical error in the months prior to the survey were most likely to also admit a problem with alcohol.

Anesthesiologists are currently compelled to take pre-employment drug screenings as well as random drug tests as directed by the hospital they are working in.


Street Talk

That point was established. The study itself was highly criticized because of the fact that it was so small and only used anonymous, self reported information. It will come down to needing to randomly drug test surgeons too.

Reply
  about 8 years ago

I know the stats are shocking but I wouldn't be surprised if the true numbers were even higher. Self reporting alcohol problems are not likely to reflect the true numbers because many people think that alcoholism affects other people more than themselves. I think that if random tests were performed on all surgeons prior to surgery there would be some pretty surprising results.

Reply
  about 8 years ago

I always wondered about it myself. Think about how much stress people who work in offices are under... they answer phones, use the computer, etc. and come home and drink a couple beers to unwind. A surgeon spends his day with his hands INSIDE of people! How much stress would that office worker feel if they knew that one hour ago they had their hands inside of the chest of a young girl, touching her HEART and willing it to beat again, only to fail? It would be enough to make me want to drink a bit

Reply
  about 8 years ago
Kyle  

Wow, this is pretty shocking. You would never make the assumption the Surgeons have a dependency on alcohol because of the nature of their jobs. I guess you can never make any assumptions about any profession!

Reply
  about 8 years ago
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