People depend on surgeons to perform essential – and in many cases life-saving – procedures. Unfortunately, a new study indicates that patients may want to think twice about trusting their lives to some surgeons.

According to a survey conducted by Dr. Michael Oreskovich at the University of Washington, approximately 15 percent of surgeons have alcohol abuse or dependency problems. While 15 percent may not seem high at first glance, it is a slightly higher rate than the population of the U.S. at large, which is estimated to be nine percent. The study did not speculate why alcohol abuse and dependency is so prevalent among surgeons, but it does raise the possibility that these issues may be a cause of surgical errors.

Link To Errors Possible

Of the surgeons surveyed by Oreskovich, 722 reported that they had made a major medical error in the past three months. Of those 722, 77 percent scored within the range specified by the study as having a problem with alcohol.

Critics of the study point out that while Oreskovich sent the survey to 25,000 surgeons, only 7,200 replied. Because of this low response rate, the implications of the study remain unclear. Oreskovich points out that the study may even under-represent the number of surgeons with alcohol problems because those dealing with dependency may be afraid to respond to these types of surveys. Everyone agrees, however, that further research is necessary.

Many Surgeons Have Been Disciplined In Ohio

As recently as 2011, the State Medical Board of Ohio disciplined 157 physicians licensed to practice medicine in the state. The board permanently revoked the licenses of 22 doctors, suspended 52 and put 38 on probation. Doctors of all specialties faced discipline for possible negligent medical treatment, including obstetricians, anesthesiologists, pediatricians, and surgeons.

The medical board can discipline doctors for a number of reasons, including:

  • Failure to use reasonable care in treating patients
  • Inappropriately prescribing drugs
  • Failure to meet continuing medical education requirements
  • Conviction of a felony
  • Impaired ability to practice medicine due to illness or alcohol or drug abuse

Finding out whether your doctor has been disciplined by the State Medical Board of Ohio is easier than you might think. When a doctor has been punished by the board, the board publishes information about the case on its website. The site provides detailed information about what action the board decided to take and why.

Choosing the right physician is extremely important. Learning as much as possible about whether your doctor has faced discipline from the State Medical Board is key to staying safe and healthy.

An Attorney Can Help

If you or someone you love has suffered an injury due to physician negligence, contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney. A medical malpractice lawyer can assess your case and help you get the compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering you deserve.