Schlachman, Belsky, Weiner & Davey, P.A.

Baltimore Law Blog

A new study has revealed what most of us may not want to hear if we are about to have surgery. Researchers have found that 14 percent of male surgeons and 26 percent of female surgeons are dependent on alcohol. Not the most comforting statistic when you have an impending operation scheduled. You may be thinking that you don't want to be the next medical malpractice statistic.

The researchers in charge of the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test conducted an anonymous survey to surgeons and questions were asked about their work habits, lifestyle, and mood. What they found was that if a surgeon was burned out or depressed, they were more likely to abuse alcohol, just like any other working person that was experiencing the same issues. But, if a male surgeon had children or works for the Department of Veteran Affairs, they had a lower incidence of alcohol addiction.

While the results may be alarming, the lead author of the study feels that a patient being injured by an impaired surgeon is uncommon. But, he notes that with this profession, there is nothing in place for random drug screenings like there are with other safety-sensitive professions.

It should also be noted that 25,000 surgeons were asked to participate in the study, but only 7,197 completed the survey. With the low response rate, the findings should not lead you to assume that all surgeons have alcohol problems.

The researchers feel that if a surgeon does have a dependence on alcohol, it is a treatable and reversible condition. With appropriate intervention, treatment and monitoring, surgeons should be encouraged to see treatment.

People put their lives in the hands of doctors and surgeons and expect the best possible care. If you've been hospitalized and received substandard medical care, you need to pursue answers and consult with an experienced personal injury attorney. The attorney can help you figure out if you have a case and develop a plan that fits your situation and benefits you the most.

Source: Medical Daily, "Survey Reveals that 15% of Surgeons Have Alcohol Dependency," Christine Hsu, February 23, 2012

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