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Invited Critique
Feb 2012

Surgeon, Heal Thyself: Comment on “Prevalence of Alcohol Use Disorders Among American Surgeons”

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliation: Department of Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston.

Arch Surg. 2012;147(2):174. doi:10.1001/archsurg.2011.1852

Surgeons are not immune to alcohol problems. The article by Oreskovich et al1 highlights a problem that has the potential to impair a surgeon's ability to practice with skill and safety. Alcohol use disorders in surgeons are often accompanied by other psychiatric disorders and professional burnout, all potentiating the risk of medical errors. Of particular concern is that the point prevalence for alcohol abuse or dependence in male surgeons was found to be 13.9% and for female surgeons almost double at 25.6%. This critical finding must serve as a catalyst for future investigation as to the cause, effective treatment, and prevention of alcohol use disorders among female and male surgeons.

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