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Dr. Death

Confidential drug programs criticized after botched surgeries

Troubling cases in which doctors were accused of botching operations while undergoing treatment for drugs and alcohol have led to criticism of rehab programs that allow thousands of U.S. physicians to keep their addictions hidden from patients.


I know for a fact that that's a huge problem.

Back in my litigation days I used to represent several national disability insurance companies. A stunning percentage of the disability claims filed by professionals involve drug-addicted physicians. The problem especially is pronounced among anesthesiologists. Literally as we speak there are perhaps several thousand anesthesiologists working out there in ER rooms while addicted to the heavy narcotic Fentanyl. If not other drugs.

The solution is beyond obvious: the iron fist as opposed to the velvet glove must be brought to bear. But take a wild guess as to the identity of two of the three major groups who are most opposed to harsh measures against drug-addled docs, and who've been able largely to maintain the status quo via money and political muscle. Then take another guess as to the political party to which those particular groups belong.

Cause and effect.


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Comments (5)

It is almost impossible to ... (Below threshold)

It is almost impossible to keep these people from working. I have seen Hospitals renew prevledges when it is known that a Doc has serious issues. The concern is that the hospital will get sued for not allowing the doctor to work at their institution without "due process".

This is a real problem. What implimentation of "iron fist" would/could be used Jason?

An additional problem is th... (Below threshold)

An additional problem is that the harder the penalties, the more the offenders are tempted to not seek help and recognize their problem.

That said, the failure for medical systems to treat patient safety as the prime directive (remember "first do no harm") underlines that profit and power structure are the main forces driving them.

The ease with which physicians have access to addictive medications without careful monitoring has been addressed somewhat but not completely.

When physicians are subject to random UDS screens as a requirement for licensure is when there might be a better handle on the problem.

When physician health care is a specialty, health screening with mandatory health certificates (much as we do for Airline Pilots, Commercial Truck Drivers, etc.) a part of obtaining and renewing a license, AND an established system for managing provider substance abuse that crosses state lines, then you have a chance of better managing physician impairment.

Norway has the best program, other countries such as UK, Australia have less robust programs.

I agree with you epador, bu... (Below threshold)

I agree with you epador, but unfortunately most physicians would probably not agree with us.

Monitored Aftercare Programs work only after physicians have been caught/committed an error and only if they are truly MONITORED.

I wonder if the urine drug screen would be an un-necessary search and lawsuits abound. Some of the people I have known during my career would certainly not pass the UDS test.

That is what the Airline Pi... (Below threshold)

That is what the Airline Pilots said before their program was established through the FAA. That's what its gonna take.

Oh look the AMA snakes are ... (Below threshold)
Spurwing Plover:

Oh look the AMA snakes are very very venomous






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