Healthcare News & Insights

Doc’s drink at dinner affects performance at morning surgeries

Researchers have shown that even a few drinks the night before surgery can have significant impact on a doctor’s performance.

While a surgeon who showed up drunk would be stopped from operating, there’s no realistic enforcement on how much a surgeon drinks the night before surgery. And in surveys, about half of health care workers have admitted they’ve gone to work hungover.

So a research team recently tested a small group of doctors to see if a night of drinking affected their performance, and if so, to what degree.

For the study, six surgeons with experience doing laparoscopic procedures were taken out for a dinner — including all booze they could handle. The doctors were asked to drink until they felt they were intoxicated. (Researchers provided rides home for the physicians.)

The next morning, the doctors were brought to a lab and asked to perform simulated laparoscopic surgeries, while the researchers measured various technical aspects of their performance. Before starting the tests, breathalyzer tests were administered to ensure the doctors were not legally drunk.

The doctors were tested in the morning, at lunchtime and in the late afternoon. Each time, they performed slightly worse than their baseline test. In general, the doctors made more mistakes and were less efficient in using the equipment. Notably, the morning “procedures” took less time than the baseline tests, while the afternoon simulations took much longer.

Although the study was too small to draw solid conclusions about when and how much doctors should be allowed to drink before surgery days, researchers did say that abstaining from alcohol the night before a procedure is probably a wise move to ensure the doctor’s skills aren’t impaired.

Read more about the study in the Archives of Surgery.

 

 

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Comments

  1. “Researchers did say that abstaining from alcohol the night before a procedure is probably a wise move to ensure the doctor’s skills aren’t impaired.”

    Really, do and/or should these findings come as any suprise? Come on, for the most part, it’s common sense to know that if we put chemicals into our bodies that are not naturally occuring substances, how could one not know that this would impact whatever we do?

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