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Alcohol addiction may lead to surgical errors

According to a study published in the Archives of Surgery, more than one in seven surgeons is either addicted to alcohol or struggles with alcohol abuse. The research also found that the rates of alcohol addiction are almost two times higher among female surgeons than male surgeons. Rates are also higher among young, unattached surgeons than older surgeons with children who are in happy relationships.

The major concern for people in Maryland and beyond is the rate of surgical errors among surgeons struggling with substance abuse problems. It appears that surgeons struggling with alcohol addiction are significantly more likely to report a surgical error in the past three months than surgeons without dependence problems.

The survey included an anonymous polling of more than 7,000 members of the American College of Surgeons. The survey showed that slightly more than 15 percent scored high enough to indicate alcohol abuse or dependence.

Getting an accurate number of individuals struggling with addiction is difficult, but it is believed that the rate of addiction among surgeons is higher than the general population. Furthermore, because of the harm it can cause, it raises even more concerns.

Addressing the issue of addiction among surgeons is important for a variety of reasons, including the health and well-being of the surgeons. But more important than their well being is the patient's safety and the care that is given to them. Surgery is scary enough. No one should have to worry that their surgeon is struggling with an addiction that could lead to mistakes being made.

Source: American Medical News, "15% of surgeons struggle with alcohol problems," Carolyne Krupa, Mar. 6, 2012

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