The factor: Turns out, students aren’t the only ones who perform worse after a night of partying. This Irish study found that surgeons are just as fallible as the rest of us: Those who drank the night before a (thankfully simulated) surgery made more errors the next day.
The not-so-obvious: Lead researcher Tony Gallagher, PhD, puts it bluntly: Only a foolhardy person would argue we didn’t know excessive drinking would impact a surgeon’s performance the next day, but “what we did not know was for how long and by how much.” The scientists were surprised on both counts. Surgeons made more mistakes all the way into the late afternoon, even when no alcohol could be detected in a breath test.
The takeaway: Unlike pilots, who are not allowed to fly if they’ve had any alcohol eight hours before takeoff, physicians have no such rules. But just as doctors rely on evidence to find the best treatment for their patients, Gallagher hopes surgeons will consider his evidence when they see how drinking can impact their performance.