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Study Finds Surgeons’ Skills Decline the Day After Drinking Alcohol

The Los Angeles Times reported there “are no rules on the amount of alcohol a surgeon may (or may not) consume on the eve of a day in the operating room.” A group of researchers designed an experiment to determine the effect of drinking on a surgeon’s drinking the night before they would perform a procedure on a laparoscopic surgery simulator, compared to a baseline. All of the surgeons “were tested on a breathalyzer before the virtual surgeries began, and at least five of the six passed.” The researchers “didn’t take comfort in the fact that there were few hangovers. Instead, they said they were bothered that surgeons had trouble in their virutal ORs even though they appeared sober.”

Reuters reported author Anthony Gallagher, of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, and colleagues say, “It is likely that surgeons are unaware that next-day surgical performance may be compromised as a result of significant alcohol intake.”

HealthDay reported the “error rate in the operating room due to a hangover seemed to peak around lunchtime, according to the research, published in the April issue of Archives of Surgery.” The message “appears obvious: ‘Surgeons and other [medical personnel] should not drink excessively the night before operating,’ said the study’s first author, Tony Gallagher, a professor of human factors at the School of Medicine at University College Cork in Cork.”

MedPage Today reported the conclusion of the study was that “after a night of drinking, surgeons’ skills remained subpar well into the next day — no matter how experienced the surgeon — suggesting a need for recommendations to address the issue, a multinational group of investigators concluded.” The “effects of alcohol on next-day performance were observed in both surgical novices and experienced surgeons, Gallagher and co-authors reported in the April issue of Archives of Surgery.

From the American Association for Justice news release.

Bob Kraft

I am a Dallas, Texas lawyer who has had the privilege of helping thousands of clients since 1971 in the areas of Personal Injury law and Social Security Disability.

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