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When Surgeons Don’t Get The Care They Need

Tue, 06/28/2011 - 5:16am
Brian Goldman, MD

When you think of surgeons, you likely picture heroes deftly using scalpels to pull patients back from the brink. But sometimes, as much as surgeons want to save someone, they simply can’t. A new survey finds that some of the men and women doing amazing feats of medicine in the OR don’t think quite so highly of themselves.

Suicidal thoughts could be the result of depression and job burnout. But the most telling factor is that surgeons who think about harming themselves are likely to have made a serious medical error within the last three months. Doctors who made a medical error were three times more likely to have suicidal thoughts. To a surgeon, the repercussions of a medical error might be telling because of the high-stakes nature of surgery. Do errors have a greater emotional effect on surgeons? I think it’s likely.

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