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15% of surgeons struggle with alcohol problems

More than one in seven surgeons struggle with alcohol abuse or dependence, says a study in the February Archives of Surgery. Researchers conducted an anonymous survey of 7,194 members of the American College of Surgeons and found that 15.4% of respondents had a score on the World Health Organization's Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test that indicated alcohol abuse or dependence. The test originally was used to identify alcohol problems among Dept. of Veterans Affairs patients and is now used by institutions throughout the U.S. The study found that rates of alcohol abuse or dependence were almost twice as high among female surgeons, at 25.6% compared with 13.9% for men. Rates also were higher among younger surgeons, those without children and those who reported being in an unhappy relationship, the study said. The higher incidence among women may be due to greater societal expectations, said Michael Oreskovich, MD, lead study author and clinical professor of psychiatry a ...

Vermont adjusts path toward universal coverage

Vermont is making significant progress toward implementing its own health insurance exchange, but transforming that marketplace into a truly universal health care program could prove to be very difficult, judging by recent compromises on the issue by Gov. Peter Shumlin. The Vermont House of Representatives on Feb. 24 adopted a measure to implement a state health insurance exchange. The bill passed by a 2-1 ratio and heads next to the Vermont Senate for consideration. Shumlin has announced his support for the measure. Also, the five-member body that state lawmakers created last year to implement the state's universal health care program soon is expected to choose mandatory minimum health benefits for insurers operating in its exchange as well as for many plans outside the exchange. The national health system reform law requires states to operate their own health insurance exchanges by 2014. If a state does not establish such an insurance marketplace, the federal government will ...

Male newborn circumcision rate falls to lowest level

The proportion of newborn boys circumcised in U.S. community hospitals is at its lowest level, 54.5%, since the federal government starting tracking the statistic in 1993. The rate has fallen from its peak of 62.7% in 1999, when the American Academy of Pediatrics adopted a neutral position on the procedure. However, the academy's stance, which many credit as a factor in the decline of circumcision, is being revisited in light of new evidence about the potential health benefits of circumcision. Since the AAP took its position, evidence has mounted that links higher prevalence of circumcision to lower rates of penile cancer, urinary tract infections, phimosis, balanitis and meatitis, as well as HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. "I don't doubt that the academy's position is influential," said Douglas S. Diekema, MD, MPH, a member of the academy's Task Force on Circumcision that is re-examining the policy. "When the neutral policy came out, more pediatricians changed th ...