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Why surgeons struggle with alcohol

There are few things as concerning as seeking treatment from a surgeon who has been drinking when you go in for even minor surgery. Alcohol abuse makes accidents and mistakes far more common. On top of that, studies have found that the rate of alcohol problems among surgeons is greater than that among the general population.

One important question to ask is why this is so. Why do surgeons turn to alcohol more frequently, despite working in a profession where a lack of sobriety can literally put others' lives in danger? A few potential reasons include:

  • Surgery is a very demanding profession. Faced with such difficult work every day, surgeons search for some sort of escape.
  • Surgeons struggle with burnout. As their jobs become more and more overwhelming, they may turn to alcohol to cope.
  • Depression is also a potential issue. Once again, alcohol could be a coping mechanism.
  • Surgeons have to work long hours. The job can feel like it consumes your life, making them more likely to drink on their time off.
  • Emergencies are common. Surgeons live in a high-stress environment where the demands of the day can change in a heartbeat. That's not easy to face every day.
  • Patients pass away. Even the best doctors lose patients. This can be very hard and some people do not take it well, perhaps pushing them into heavy drinking.

These are just a few reasons that researchers have noted, and they help paint the picture of a high-stress job where mistakes can be deadly. Those who are harmed by negligent doctors need to know what legal options they have.

Source: Reuters, "Alcohol problems not uncommon among surgeons: study," accessed May 25, 2018

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