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Substance Use in Anesthesiology Residents

Substance Use in Anesthesiology Residents

Substance use disorders are a serious public health issue, and physicians are not immune to these problems. “Anesthesiologists have long been considered at risk for substance use disorders because of their access to potent drugs, such as opioids,” explains David O. Warner, MD. Few studies, however, have explored the epidemiology of these disorders in physicians in general and anesthesiologists in particular. Current estimates have been based on surveys and reports from clinicians as well as physician health programs, but these data have limitations. “The long-term outcomes of substance use disorders in physicians are not known,” says Dr. Warner. “Gathering more data on substance use disorders can help educate us about preventing and managing these problems.” Compelling New Data on Outcomes of Substance Use In a retrospective study published in JAMA, Dr. Warner and colleagues described the incidence and outcomes of substance use disorders among anesthesiology residents in the United States who entered training between 1975 and 2009. The study included 44,612 residents who contributed 177,848 resident-years for analysis. “One important goal was to inform residency program directors and others about the long-term outcomes for anesthesiology residents who experience substance use disorders. We also wanted to better inform both individual treatment decisions and overall policies,” Dr. Warner says. According to the results, the incidence of substance use disorders increased over the study period, and relapse rates did not appear to improve. Overall, 0.86% of anesthesiology residents entering primary training from 1975 to 2009 had evidence of substance use disorders during their training. Of the residents involved in the study, 384 experienced substance use disorders during training, with an overall incidence...
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