Doctors Get Drunk Before Emergency Call

Will restaurant patrons stop tipsy surgeons before they head back to work?

Nov. 19, 2010— -- It's midmorning at a busy suburban restaurant. You're enjoying a meal and catching up with friends when suddenly you notice something out of the ordinary -- doctors in full uniform getting drunk at the next table.

They joke about being on call.

"Let's do shots! We're only on call four more hours!" one of them shouts.

But could they be serious? Drink after drink, they become louder and louder. Doctors just unwinding after a long day? Maybe, but what happens when they get that emergency call to go back to the operating room?

Though sensationalized in hit shows like "Grey's Anatomy" and "Lost," doctors showing up to surgery drunk is all too real: In Elyria, Ohio, a prominent local orthopedic surgeon had his medical license suspended in January after admitting to drinking on the job, among other indiscretions. The following month, a Denver anesthesiologist was suspended after co-workers reportedly accused him of treating patients after consuming alcohol.

So we wondered, what would you do if you saw doctors getting drunk before surgery? Would you confront them directly? Call a manager? Call the police? We rigged Black Bear Saloon in South Norwalk, Conn., with our hidden cameras to find out.

We hire actresses Traci Hovel and Dawn Yanek to play our drunken surgeons. They start throwing back shot after shot in order to "unwind" during their long shift. As nearby customers notice their excessive drinking, our doctors get a call: Code blue -- back to the ER.

"The problem is we have to go back, so drink it up because I'm not wasting all this. You're on my team. I can't be brought down by you" says Hovel. Yanek clearly has reservations about going back to the ER but gets no help or support from nearby customers.

Close by, a family watches in horror as they listen to Hovel and Yanek talk about performing surgery after they've had too much to drink.

"Sir, we've got to go! We've got to do a surgery!" Hovel says to a manager.

Shocked Patron: It's 'None of My Business'

As Yanek pleads with Hovel to not go back to the hospital, we wait to see what people will do. But still, our actresses' drunken behavior is met with nothing but stares. As our doctors debate, we watch them walk out the door, uninterrupted by a single person.

"I was in shock. I was like, 'Wow, they're going into surgery?' They just, look at the table, there's beers and shots on the table," said one of the patrons.

As for not getting involved: "Uh, none of my business I guess, I don't know. Didn't want to get into it," the patron said.

As we began taping again we are shocked to see a group of people actually try to help our drunken doctors. Hovel and Yanek are downing shot after shot, beer after beer and then the call. "Oh my god we're being called in," Hovel says.

Our actresses begin discussing their next move when they get some friendly advice from the neighboring table.

"Get some peanuts," one witness says.

"Peanuts?" asks Hovel.

"To kill the smell" she replies.

Instead of stopping our sloppy surgeons from heading to the door, these patrons try to help cover our doctors' breath, even getting the manager involved by insisting that he find them peanuts.

"You want peanuts?" the manager asks.

"No, for them," our witness says, gesturing to the doctors. "To kill the smell!"

Nearby another table chimes in: "There are mints by the door!"

Our doctors receive gum, mints and peanuts before heading for the door, and amid all their newfound "help" they head to the hospital, their breath newly masked.

Over the course of the day of filming, no one seemed to know how to stop our drunken surgeons --- instead some patrons even offered to help them cover their drunken tracks. We decided to switch in male doctors for female doctors. How would people respond?

Find out on "What Would You Do?" Friday at 9 p.m. ET