Dozing off at the wrong times…

Here’s something that’s not a good idea:

Boston, MA (AHN) – The Board of Registration in Medicine, which is the governing authority issuing licenses to Massachusetts doctors, has reportedly suspended a Boston anesthesiologist from the practice of medicine for dozing off during an operation.

However, the headline is misleading. It turns out that this doctor has a bit more of a problem than just dozing off during an operation:

In December 2005, Thomas Ho admitted inhaling anesthetic gas while on lunch break on another occasion. The Board also added that following month Ho had taken a prescription drug that caused him to doze off. When he fell asleep he was the only anesthesiologist in the operating room at Children’s Hospital Boston.

The Boston Herald reported that the disgraced doctor now must show he has been off drugs for at least 15 months before he can reapply for his license to practice. He must also agree to monitoring for drug and alcohol use.

Yeah, that’d explain the dozing off.


  1. #1 nosugrefneb
    July 29, 2007

    My dad knew of a narcoleptic surgeon once…

  2. #2 David D.G.
    July 29, 2007

    Oh, great. And even if/when he satisfies everyone that he’s okay to resume working as an anaesthesiologist, he’ll be in the equivalent position of an alcoholic bartender. That’s got to be a bad idea. I hope he considers some sort of career shift to minimize his temptations.

    ~David D.G.

  3. #3 Ex-anesthesiologist's partner
    July 29, 2007

    Yes, would be tricky to be an anesthesiologist with a past drug problem given the “too much access” thing. A common problem in addiction of all kinds, of course, right down to the guy quitting smoking who can’t hang with his buddies any more because they are all smokers and being around all those folks enjoying their cancer-sticks is pretty much a guaranteed relapse.

    But what other specialty could the doc take up?

    Critical care = same problem as anesthesiology.
    Pain control specialist = still too much access to hard-core meds
    Pathology = no drug temptation but anesthesiologists typically pride themselves on the patient coming out alive

    I guess Emergency Medicine might just about pass. Although even there there is probably too much temptation – e.g. here in the UK our ERs like the keep the ketamine handy (works esp. well on grandmas and small kiddies, I’m told).

    There is a well-known medical joke that goes:

    Why is the suicide rate so high among anesthesiologists than among surgeons?


    Because when anesthesiologists are in despair or having doubts , they have access to the very best pharmaceuticals for ending it all painlessly.

    Surgeons, on the contrary, never have ANY doubts since they are always right.

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