Alcoholism not uncommon among surgeons

ERRORS, ALCOHOL LINKED? Among the 722 physicians who said they had a major medical error in the past three months, 77 percent of them scored within the range of having alcohol problems. These results “show there’s a big problem and that we need to do something about it, especially for the patients but also for the physicians’ health and well being,” Oreskovich said. “Obviously, this is a signal for further study,” he added.
Do you know much about alcohol? These alcohol statistics might astound you. Here are some alcohol facts to consider: - Annually, more than 100,000 deaths in the U.S. alone are caused by excessive alcohol consumption. - Nearly half of all fatal car crashes are alcohol-related. - The average person age 14 and older drinks 2.18 gallons of alcohol a year. (Obviously some drink less or none at all, and others drink much more). - The more education a person has, the more likely they are to drink. - The wealthier a person is, the more likely they are to drink. - The country of Luxemburg has the highest per capita consumption of alcohol, followed by Hungary, Ireland, the Czech Republic, and Germany. The U.S. comes in 26th on the list. - Every day an average of 11,318 teens try alcohol for the first time. - Alcoholism costs the U.S. between 40 and 60 billion dollars per year.
One of the limitations of the survey is that only about 7,200 surgeons out of the 25,000 queried responded to the survey. In an editorial accompanying the report in the Archives of Surgery, Livingston points out that this is a very low response rate. “If you have a low response rate, you don’t know if it represents the universe of people you’re trying to study,” he told Reuters Health. Oreskovich said it’s possible that the percent of surgeons with alcoholism is underestimated in this study, “because I think the folks who are less likely to respond may have shame and guilt and fear associated with their alcohol abuse and dependence that they don’t want to report on the survey.” He said that other studies of physicians who go into rehabilitation show very low relapse rates back into substance abuse. SOURCE: Archives of Surgery, February 2012. ### Prevalence of Alcohol Use Disorders Among American Surgeons Michael R. Oreskovich, MD; Krista L. Kaups, MD; Charles M. Balch, MD; John B. Hanks, MD; Daniel Satele, BA; Jeff Sloan, PhD; Charles Meredith, MD; Amanda Buhl, MPH; Lotte N. Dyrbye, MD, MHPE; Tait D. Shanafelt, MD Arch Surg. 2012;147(2):168-174. doi:10.1001/archsurg.2011.1481

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