5 Horrifying Truths About Being a Medical Doctor


On paper, being a doctor seems pretty great. The money is good, it makes everyone around you feel inferior, and you get a diploma that literally gives you permission to play God.

But being a doctor isn’t just about lots of sex and cocaine parties — in fact, it’s mostly not about that at all.

#5. Doctors Hate You, and They Hate Their Lives

On average, one doctor a day kills himself. Despite what you hear about lawyers, doctors actually have the highest suicide rate, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association. It’s even worse among female doctors. You think they like looking at you with your clothes off? You’re disgusting. How dare you. How dare you. The suicide rate among female doctors is 2.3 times the national average, and the suicide rate of male doctors is 1.4 times higher.

Plus, with proper medical training they’re not going to screw up things like proper OD dosage or how to cut.

Dr. Charles Reynolds, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and, statistically speaking, a likely suicide waiting to happen, says, “Undiagnosed and untreated depression is the culprit here.” No one is diagnosing the depression? In doctors? Do we need to create an additional breed of doctor that only doctors other doctors, or will this new super-doctor then be more likely to kill himself even harder because of all of his undiagnosed depression? How many different kinds of mega-doctors do we need to add to the doctor hierarchy until we get this suicide situation under control? And why all the suicide? Why can’t they just drink their problems away, like normal people?


#4. Your Doctor Might Be Drunk

Oh shit. In a study done on the American College of Surgeons, 15 percent of male surgeons and 26 percent of female surgeons suffered from alcohol abuse and dependence. That might not seem super high, but it is higher than the national average. What’s more alarming is that a significant portion reported having errors during surgery in the prior three months because of their dependence. The stress of being a doctor and being responsible for saving lives drove these doctors to drink, which, in turn, contributed to mistakes made in surgery. Which likely drove them to even MORE drinking, and now we’re on an infinity loop of drunk doctors cutting noses off and leaving their scalpels in butts before going off to drink away their stress.

The actual reason for the mask is so you can’t smell their “Breakfast-Martini.”

Doctors are also more likely to abuse “prescribed opioids and benzodiazepines,” which I’ve never heard of but can only assume are future sci-fi drugs that only doctors know about. And you take them in weird future sci-fi, like you get high by looking at them. You smile at a pill and suddenly “OH SHIT I’M ON ACID.”

If you want to be safe, it turns out, be operated on by someone who is male, who has children, and who specializes in operating on veterans. For some reason, these are the people least likely to be drunk while operating on you.


#3. The Deaths — Oh Loooord the Deaths

People make mistakes, and we’re not going to vilify doctors because they’re human; most of our best friends are human. That said, 98,000 people die every year from mistakes doctors make.

98,000. No wonder they’re so depressed.

A mistake is defined as a death that could have been preventable. Either a mistake in surgery or a mistake in a prescription or some other weird mistake (scalpel butt). One study showed that if you randomly pull 100 medical charts, 40 will contain evidence of doctor errors. To put that into perspective, imagine if your job was to make cars, and 40 times out of 100, instead of designing a car with functioning doors and a working steering wheel, you killed people to death.

The death can come in surprising forms, too. You know how the doctor prescribes this weird thing to you, you look at the chicken scratches on the prescription pad, and you think, “How can anyone read that?” But for some reason you trust that your pharmacist has this supernatural power to read doctor’s handwriting? Well … he doesn’t.

According to a study done by the National Academies of Science Institutes of Medicine, more than 7,000 deaths occur each year because the pharmacist couldn’t decipher the prescription and gave you an overdose of some weird chemotherapy pill instead of Viagra.

A good rule of thumb: If you can’t read it, then your pharmacist can’t read it.



James Altucher/August  31,2013