212 anaesthetists have presented to PHS over the 10 years it has been running (51% female, 49% male). At presentation, 72% were at work. Anaesthetists and emergency doctors have the highest rates of addiction across all the specialties – 20% of anaesthetist presentations are addiction related, in comparison to an average across all the specialties of 10.5%. This specialty has the highest percentage of doctors involved with the regulator (17%) which is perhaps unsurprising given the higher rate of drug use in this group.
The increased risk of addiction is due to a number of factors, of which the most important is the close contact with (and ability to use) potent medicines.
Anaesthetists are low users of mental health services in comparison to other medical practitioners. This, in combination with the higher levels of addiction (to both alcohol and drugs) is likely to contribute to the higher rates of death – both accidental and by suicide – among anaesthetists in comparison with other medical practitioners.