Why doctors are reporting to work drunk
What you need to know:
- About 40 per cent of medical practitioners experience either anxiety or dread regarding going to work.
- About 49 per cent are either at their breaking point or looking for new jobs due to the stress and trauma they endure.
- Men are three times more likely to consume alcohol or controlled substances up to 12 hours before their shift.
The pressure and burnout that comes with a doctor’s work have seen a majority reporting to work drunk, a new report has revealed.
According to a study by All Points North (APN), a mental health company, many healthcare workers suffer from substance abuse.
About 40 percent of medical practitioners experience either anxiety or dread regarding going to work.
About 49 percent are either at their breaking point or looking for new jobs due to the stress and trauma they endure.
The 2022 State of Mental Health study found that 64 per cent of respondents said the amount of money they are paid makes them feel betrayed by the country that they work so hard to keep healthy.
The study done in the United States and gives a global picture in most countries, including Kenya, shows that one in seven physicians (14 percent) admits to drinking alcohol at work.
More than one in five (21 percent) say they drink alcohol or abuse drugs multiple times a day, while 17 percent take alcohol at least once daily.
These statistics are troublesome for healthcare workers, but they also highlight a dangerous threat to quality patient care.
When asked why they drink while at work, 32 percent said they are too overworked and don’t have the time while 20 percent said they think the system is broken or too hard to navigate.
The data suggests that, while both groups struggle with substance misuse, men struggle at higher rates, with the findings showing that men are more than five times more likely to consume alcohol or controlled substances while at work.
Men are three times more likely to consume alcohol or controlled substances up to 12 hours before their shift (44 per cent compared to 17 per cent of women).
Men are also more affected by the stigma associated with seeking mental health help compared to women which provide insights into why they are turning to alcohol and drugs instead of seeking treatment.
“There’s still a very real stigma around men asking for help when it comes to their mental well-being. The crisis will continue to mount if we do not provide the necessary access and tools to destigmatise mental health treatment. We must act now, not only to support those in the healthcare system, but the country as a whole, before it’s too late,” states the study.
“The pandemic has dramatically impacted the well-being and mental health of healthcare workers [because they] are witnessing more suffering and death than ever before. The frequency and intensity of this exposure are causing an unprecedented amount of trauma and stress, leading to high levels of burnout,” says APN founder Dr Noah Nordheimer.
The study recommends that countries put mental health at par with physical health by recognising mental health as a fundamental human right, an indicator of overall health, and a protected industry standard.
On July 24, 2020, the Ministry of Health launched the Employee Assistance Program at Kenyatta National Hospital to offer psychosocial support to help healthcare workers cope with extremely stressful work conditions, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The journey has not been easy for the medics, more so in the past two years that countries have been recording high numbers of Covid-19 cases.
Medical personnel have shied away from being identified with the disease. Some of them say they were being blamed for getting infected.