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By Dr. Brian McDonough, Medical Editor

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – There is a disturbing report from the University of Washington about alcohol abuse and certain physicians.

About 15 percent of surgeons have alcohol abuse or dependency problems, a rate that is somewhat higher than the rest of the physician population. That rate is nine percent.

The researchers also found that surgeons who showed signs of alcoholism were 45 percent more likely to admit that they had a major medical error in the past three months. Alcohol problems were linked with the doctors reporting depression and burnout as well.

About 14 percent of male surgeons and 25 percent of female surgeons showed signs of alcohol problems.

Why the higher rate in women?

According to the authors, the stress of being a surgeon, and balancing professional and personal obligations, is much more prevalent in female than male surgeons and this could contribute to the problem.

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