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Are hospitals properly handling drug-addicted doctors?

It’s not uncommon to hear a story from either our state or another where a hospital staff member was caught stealing drugs from patients. We wish it was though because that would mean thousands of patients are not at risk of a serious medical mistake. This would mean that lives might not be lost.

But these instances do take place and some believe it’s because hospitals across the nation do not do enough to crack down on drug addictions among hospital staff. Many of our readers may remember the case of the itinerant hospital technician who, by stealing injectable pain killers, ended up infecting at least 46 people across eight states with hepatitis. His is not the only case, and in others where hospital staff have stolen drugs, serious medical errors have occurred.

Although USA Today identified a number of cases in which health care practitioners were disciplined or prosecuted for stealing drugs from a hospital, many believe that the problem is not being consistently addressed in every state. As you can imagine, a high stress job coupled with an addiction can create a recipe for disaster and usually at the cost of the patient’s well-being.

If a doctor’s judgment is clouded because of stolen narcotics, it’s a potential hazard. If a staff member contaminates medication syringes then places them back in inventory, this creates a dangerous situation. And if hospitals the nation over neglect to address these problems and correct them, then these issues can quickly turn into litigation that holds the hospital and its staff liable for injuries. That having been said, it may not be that difficult to see why so many people feel that something needs to be done and soon before more innocent lives are put in harm’s way.

Source: KTVB News, “Doctors, medical staff on drugs put patients at risk,” Peter Eisler, April 16, 2014

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