Originally published April 7 2012
Surgeons twice as likely as general population to be alcoholics, survey finds
by Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
(NaturalNews) A survey sent out to 25,000 surgeons has revealed that the prevalence of alcoholism within this particular medical category is disproportionally high compared to that of the general population. At least 15 percent of surgeon respondents showed signs of alcohol abuse or dependency problems, while only about nine percent of the general population struggles with alcohol problems.
Published in the journal Archives of Surgery, the results of the survey also revealed that female surgeons are nearly twice as likely as male surgeons to have alcohol issues, with 14 percent of male surgeons and 26 percent of female surgeons indicating alcohol problems. And among all surgeons, both male and female, with alcohol dependency or addiction, nearly half of them admitted to causing a "major medical error" within the previous three months.
"The nature of the beast is that the percent of emergencies, the percent of after hours work, and actual scheduled work itself all require an energy and concentration that is really different than a lot of the other specialties," said study author Dr. Michael Oreskovich from the University of Washington, who added that depression and burnout symptoms, which are common in the surgical profession, were directly linked to alcohol issues in many cases.
The survey itself, which was specifically designed to screen for indicators of alcohol abuse, was only completed by 7,200 of the 25,000 surgeons to whom it was sent. According to Dr. Edward Livingston, a professor of surgery at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas who wrote an accompanying editorial on the study, this low response rate could be indicative of an even more problematic alcoholism problem than the findings indicate.
Dr. Oreskovich agrees, having said that "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." In other words, alcoholism among surgeons could be even higher than the figures suggest, which is particularly concerning for the thousands of patients who undergo serious surgical procedures on a daily basis.
Last year, another study published in the Archives of Surgery found that one in 16, or about six percent, of surgeons has actually considered committing suicide. And in the upper age category of 55 to 64, that percentage was even higher, teetering at around seven percent (http://www.naturalnews.com/031074_surgeons_suicide.html).
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