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Substance abuse increases among anesthesiology residents

More anesthesiology residents have struggled with substance abuse disorders in recent years compared to earlier decades, MedPage Today reported.

In a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers examined the disciplinary records of more than 44,000 anesthesiology residents between 1975 and 2009. During that period, researchers identified 384 residents who showed evidence of developing a substance use disorder during their medical training.

Among the anesthesiology residents, rates of substance abuse seemed to increase beginning in 2003, according to MedPage Today. Between 1975 and 2003 rates of abuse more than doubled.

The most commonly abused drugs among residents were IV opioids, such as fentanyl, followed by alcohol and then anesthetic and hypnotic drugs, like benzodiazepines. Over the course of the study, 28 residents died during training, and in each case, the death certificates indicated that substance abuse played a role in the cause of death. Men were also much more likely to develop substance abuse problems compared to women.

Overall, the study’s authors wrote that their findings illustrate the need for better substance abuse prevention policies in the medical community, in order to “improve physician well-being and patient safety.”

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