Rating docs on coffee consumption

The Pediatric Insider

© 2015 Roy Benaroch, MD

There are a lot of doc rating sites out there, and a whole lot of data ranking physicians on re-admission rates, usage of generic drugs, and our ability to correctly complete “Family Medical Leave Act” forms (I’m currently running zero percent on that last one. Go me.) But our Swiss colleagues wanted to dig deeper, to uncover what could be the most important metric about physicians. Which of us drink the most coffee?

From the December, 2015 edition of the BMJ comes “Black medicine: An observational study of doctors’ coffee purchasing patterns at work.” Kudos on the correct placement of that apostrophe! Researchers tracked the purchasing database in a large Swiss hospital, following the coffee-buying habits of about 700 doctors for a year. Since the hospital offers a “generous discount” of 45%, the authors figured that most coffee purchases would be through this system. (By the way – every hospital I’ve ever worked in offers free coffee to docs. USA! USA!)

  • Male docs buy more coffee than women (men averaged 128 coffees per year, women 86). My guess here is that women actually drink just as much coffee, but they’re less likely to sit around in the cafeteria to do it.
  • Senior docs buy more coffee than younger docs – and heads of departments buy the most, perhaps because they’re buying multiple coffees at each trip, perhaps as “rounds” for their junior associates. Or maybe they drink multiple coffees at once. That’s how they became hard-hitting department heads.
  • Of all specialists, anesthesiologists purchased the least coffee (averaging 39 a year.) The authors speculate that they might spend more time in the operating area, getting their caffeine from nearer to where they work. They also guess that anesthesiologists are the least “chatty” of doctors, and the least likely to go to the common cafeteria to share coffee time with colleagues.
  • The big winner with the highest coffee consumption, averaging about 190 coffees per year, was the orthopedic surgeons! Me doctor, fix bone, have latte!

The study is a fun, quick read, with some interesting background on coffee as a medicine. There are also some very serious comments, kind of like “letters to the editor”, under the “responses” tab. I was happy to see that my coffee-drinking habits qualify me at least as an orthopedic surgeon, and probably as a head-of-department, and maybe even as a hospital CEO!

Our new hospital CEO

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