Substance abuse in anesthesiologists

The Boston Globe has a front page story of an anesthesiology attending in Boston, recently found dead in a hospital closet:

There was a half-filled vial of propofol, a sedative used to put patients to sleep during surgery, and a syringe filled with midazolam, a powerful drug similar to Valium. There were empty vials of morphine, hydromorphone, and Demerol – addictive opiates capable of providing tremendous highs. And then there was one nearly empty vial of vecuronium – an intravenous muscle relaxant that, when taken at such a high dose, would shut down the body’s respiratory system in roughly three minutes, leading to certain death.

A tragic fall from grace of a promising young doctor. Apparently 2 percent of anesthesiology residents suffer from substance abuse. Some hospitals, like Boston’s Massachusetts General Hospital, perform random drug testing of their anesthesiologists. Should a program like this be expanded to hospitals nationwide?

Notes of an Anesthesioboist comments.

topics: anesthesiologist, addicted

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