Circulation 75,648 • Volume 20, No. 2 • Summer 2005   Issue PDF

New Video Drives Home Dangers of Substance Abuse

Robert C. Morell, MD

Drs. Tom Hornbein, Raymond Roy, and Lynn Hankes along with Diana Quinlan, CRNA, served as Executive Directors for the new video Wearing Masks II. The video, produced by the Coalition for the Prevention of Substance Abuse in Anesthesia, is an excellent educational tool illustrating the dangers of substance abuse and drug addiction in anesthesia. Specific focus is directed toward behavioral patterns that may be recognized in impaired health care professionals along with signs of addiction. The goal of this presentation is to help identify addicted anesthesia providers and help them enter safe and anonymous treatment. This video is available in DVD format and has 5 parts, which include an introduction, the original Wearing Masks I video, discussion questions, Wearing Masks: Ten Years Later, and resource information. The content is personal, dramatic, and extremely important. The destructive forces of drug addiction are presented through the eyes of family, friends, and coworkers of real anesthesia providers whose lives were destroyed, and ended, by substance abuse. During our careers, we will all likely encounter a colleague or coworker who is an addict. Education may help us recognize the problem and intervene appropriately. During my 22 years in anesthesia, I have personally known 4 anesthesia providers who were addicts: 2 physicians, and 2 CRNAs. One physician was resuscitated after being found in full arrest with a needle in his arm, 1 CRNA fell unconscious while administering a general anesthetic, and 1 anesthesia resident (who appears on this video) is now dead, despite intervention and multiple attempts at treatment and rehabilitation. This is a real problem, affecting real people, and impacting patient safety in a dramatic way. Wearing Masks II is a tremendous educational tool that all anesthesia providers should watch. Contact and ordering information is available from the website

SAAC/AAPD (Society of Academic Anesthesiology Chairs/the Association of Anesthesiology Program Directors) has also recently produced a DVD entitled Collateral Damage: Drug Abuse and Anesthesiology. Contact and ordering information for this video is available from the website Finally, a recent article in JAMA by Domino, Hornbein, et al.1 examined risk factors for relapse in health care professionals with a history substance abuse.


  1. Domino KB, Hornbein, Polissar NL, et al. Risk factors for relapse in health care professionals with substance use disorders. JAMA 2005;293:1453-60.