Drinking at work – what’s the worst that could happen?

October 13, 2014 9:26 am

An anaesthetist in France has just been charged (October 2014) with manslaughter after a patient that she was anaesthetising during a caesarean section died.

The anaesthetist appeared “in an alcoholic state” when the police interviewed her.  She admitted that she drank significant quantities of alcohol everyday and had vodka in her water bottle.

Was this first time that the anaesthetist had been under the influence of alcohol at work?  Did management know?  Had anyone in management at the hospital taken any action to support her?

Possibly, none of her colleagues had said anything either……did everyone keep quiet and do nothing until a patient died?

It can be hard to deal with a colleague at work who’s drinking alcohol at work or is so hung over that they can’t function effectively.

glass of red wineYou may not feel that you can say anything to the person yourself, but you can talk to your manager or theirs.  You can also let your Union of Staff representative know.

Some companies have an HR department or Occupational Health Unit.  You can let them know too.  Don’t be afraid that you’re getting a colleague into trouble.  If they are drinking a lot then they are already in trouble.  Your actions are part of the solution to their problems although it may not feel that way at first.

It may be easier not to say anything but people who are drunk at work affect more than just themselves.  They may not kill anyone, like the anaesthetist in France last week, but they can affect the people around them.  Anyone working with machinery or driving as part of their job could certainly injure themselves or others.

At the very least, someone drinking a lot may not be physically hurting others but they are certainly damaging themselves.  They need our help and support, preferably before something goes horribly wrong. 

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