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Drug abuse allegations among physicians

Patients facing surgery or other treatment by New York physicians may be concerned with statistics related to drug use by medical professionals. According to studies, approximately 10 percent of physicians currently working deal with personal addiction involving drugs or alcohol. In some cases, surgical errors occur as those performing procedures do so while stoned. In extreme cases, these drug-related errors have resulted in severe spinal cord injuries or death.

A recent article offered some insight into the problem. Relatively easy access to narcotic drugs, for example, may be available to practitioners because of connections with other medical professionals who can write prescriptions, and some physicians suggest that a number of doctors perform procedures and complicated surgeries while impaired. On medical professional who spoke to a news outlet suggested that he treated patients while stoned but has never been accused of harming a patient.

Currently, there is not a federal law specifically related to the issue of drug use by doctors. However, the problem has become serious enough in some locations that laws are being proposed to address the situation. For example, California legislators have recommended the requirement of random drug testing for those professionals who hold hospital privileges. Additionally, testing is recommended in cases of surgical errors and deaths deemed preventable. These regulations resemble laws related to the testing of airline pilots.

Although drug use by physicians may not yet be addressed through laws, in some situations, license revocations have occurred based on violations of the standard of care, and an individual who thinks a personal injury has resulted from a medical professional's impaired state during surgery or treatment may want to discuss the situation with an attorney. In addition to evaluating the reports and facts of the case, an attorney may be able to build a case for compensation that might be presented in court.

Source: Today News, "Is your doctor stoned? Physicians with substance abuse problems continue to work", Jeff Rossen and Charlie McLravy, June 16, 2014

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