According to the American Medical Association (AMA), 10-15% of all doctors have suffered with some sort of alcohol or drug addiction at any one time during their medical career potentially putting their patients at risk. The AMA says that some 7-8,000 doctors are currently undergoing treatment for substance abuse problems. And, in most states, doctors can be treated confidentially, without their patients being informed. While doctors suffer no more addiction problems than the rest of the population, the question is, “Should doctors be able to seek treatment anonymously?” “Do patients have the right to know if their physician is being treated for substance abuse problems.”
Impaired doctors have botched surgeries or failed to follow up on lab and tests results. In Montana, a jury awarded a patient an undisclosed settlement when the doctor failed to follow up on a test result showing that the patient had cancer. The patient went untreated for a full year after the cancer appeared on a test result the physician failed to read. Dr. Robert Schure, the doctor named in the suit, had failed rehab six times according to news reports. In North Carolina, a doctor undergoing alcoholism treatment billed a patient’s medical insurance for gastric bypass surgery and then performed a shortcut surgery which resulted in the patient having many serious complications.
Most addiction centers and the AMA believe that doctors should be able to be treated confidentially. Anonymous treatment encourages physicians to seek treatment, they say. Without anonymity many physicians would no longer seek treatment.
California is the only state that is going back to the rules that were in effect in the 1980’s: a doctor with an addiction loses their license. Period. Would you want TV’s Dr. House with his addiction to painkillers treating your family member?
If you have been hurt as a result of a doctor’s negligence, with the help of The Farber Law Group, a Washington law firm experienced and knowledgeable in handling medical malpractices, you may be able to recover your damages. Call us today for a free case consultation.