Journal Article

Persistent next-day effects of excessive alcohol consumption on laparoscopic surgical performance.

Gallagher AG, Boyle E, Toner P, et al. Archives of surgery (Chicago, Ill. : 1960). 2011;146:419-26.

Unprofessional behavior by clinicians poses definite patient safety threats, but most research in this area has focused on identifying and addressing disruptive behavior in the work environment. This randomized study raises the concern that physician behaviors outside of work can impair work performance. Significant worsening of simulated surgical performance was found when subjects (students and attending physicians) drank alcohol until intoxication the night before performing procedures. The authors of this study recommend that consideration be given to establishing formal recommendations for alcohol consumption prior to operating room duties. Lack of sleep prior to performing surgery has also been associated with surgical complications, and in fact, intoxication and sleep deprivation have been shown to have similar detrimental effects on physicians' cognitive performance.