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Errors Push Surgeons to Consider Suicide

16% of those who have made a major error think about ending it, study finds
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 18, 2011 12:58 PM CST
Errors Push Surgeons to Consider Suicide
Dr. Robert Lehmberg said it took prodding from close friends to finally get him to seek treatment for depression and suicidal thoughts several years ago.   (Danny Johnston)

(Newser) – They're the ones we go to for help, but they may be the ones hurting: Surgeons contemplate suicide at a higher rate than the general public, according to a study of 8,000 surgeons: About 6% reported having recent suicidal thoughts, compared to 3% of the public. But the stat gets even more grim among those who have recently committed a major medical error—it jumps to 16%. Worse still, surgeons are less likely to seek help; only 25% who have such thoughts do, compared to 44% of those in the general public who have thoughts of suicide.

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"Surgeons reported a great deal of concern about potential repercussions for their license to practice medicine," and many admitted self-medicating with antidepressant drugs, said the study's lead author. Of the surgeons who reported working less than 40 hours per week, few had suicidal thoughts; but on average, surgeons worked 60 hours per week, with 40% reporting they felt burned out, reports the AP. (Read more surgeons stories.)

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