How does drinking alcohol at night affect a surgeon's skills the next day?

Arthur W. Perry, MD
Plastic Surgery
In the Archives of Surgery, a paper was published that looked at the technical skills of surgeons the morning after a bender. A dinner with 10-26 drinks of alcohol, even followed by a good night's sleep, was enough to impair the surgeons the next day. Despite the fact that your surgeon might not have alcohol on his or her breath, and even with a normal breathalyzer test, more errors would be expected in the operating room.

Amazingly, when surgeons performed tasks at 9 a.m., 1 p.m. and even 4 p.m. the day after drinking, they were still impaired! Alcohol doesn't have the short-term effects that many people think it has. Brain and liver function are altered for many hours, even days, after drinking heavily.

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