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August 26, 1998

Mistreatment and Maladaptations During Medical Internship

JAMA. 1998;280(8):699-700. doi:10-1001/pubs.JAMA-ISSN-0098-7484-280-8-jbk0826

To the Editor.—Buried in Dr Daugherty and colleagues'1 interesting article are numbers that are profoundly disturbing. The 1274 interns apparently identified at least 134 colleagues impaired by alcohol and 44 colleagues impaired by prescription drug abuse or illegal drug use in the course of a single year. The authors' minimization of these findings "alcohol use as a reason for impairment was reported by less than 15%. . . . While prescription drug abuse and illegal drug use were cited by only 5.0%" underscores the medical profession's denial of this serious problem. Lack of sleep pales in comparison with these data, especially in view of the reported number of hours worked (56.9 hours), a number comparable to hours worked by the average clinician in practice.

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