According to government studies, about one out of 10 doctors is an alcoholic or drug addict, and Arizona-based doctors are likely no exception. One investigative correspondent brought this issue to light after finding several cases of doctors getting caught abusing alcohol and drugs. He reported that some of these doctors were drunk or stoned when they performed surgeries on patients, leaving the patients injured or even dead.
In an interview, a Tennessee physician admitted to seeing patients as an intern while under the influence of drugs. The doctor said that fellow physicians were writing prescriptions for him. At one point, he was reportedly taking 100 pills every day. However, he has been clean for 10 years. While his patients did not know that he was using drugs, that is not case for all doctors.
One doctor who stands accused of substance abuse prior to surgeries is based in Dallas, Texas. According to one patient, the neurosurgeon performed back surgery and removed a portion of his spinal cord, leaving him partially paralyzed. About 12 other patients say that the doctor bungled their surgeries, while two medical malpractice lawsuits claim he is responsible for two deaths. In addition, one of the doctor's assistants testified in a deposition that the doctor kept vodka under his desk and drank on the job. A friend also said that the doctor has used LSD and cocaine.
The Dallas doctor did not face criminal charges, but he lost his medical license for violating the standard of care. There are no federal laws regarding the issue, but California lawmakers have suggested a law to require hospital-based doctors to take random drug tests, as well as be tested after major medical mistakes.
Patients who are injured due to medical malpractice have the right to seek compensation from the responsible doctor, nurse or facility where they received care. This could help them recover the cost of additional medical care and may compensate them for pain and suffering.
Source: Today News, "Is your doctor stoned? Physicians with substance abuse problems continue to work", Jeff Rossen and Charlie McLravy, June 16, 2014