Last year, a record 46 doctors were disciplined for substance abuse, according to a recent news release from Consumer Watchdog Campaign. While this high number is alarming, research suggests that this is just the tip of the iceberg. The California Medical Board believes that one to two percent of doctors are abusing drugs or alcohol at any given time, which translates to approximately 2,580 California doctors.
This November, California voters will have the opportunity to hold doctors accountable. Proposition 46, also called the Troy and Alana Pack Patient Safety Act, would mandate random drug testing of doctors, as well as testing in the event of major mishaps. Doctors would also need to report colleagues with substance abuse problems, bring the cap on medical malpractice damages in line with inflation and require doctors to consult the state’s prescription database prior to prescribing addictive drugs to first-time patients.
If you’re uncomfortable with the idea of being cared for by a doctor who is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you have good reason. A doctor who abuses substances on the job is much more likely to make the kinds of mistakes that have lasting effects on patients. There are many dangers associated with negligent medical care, from the administering of incorrect medications and the over-reliance on addictive painkillers to the horror stories of medical apparatuses left in patients’ bodies after surgery. These dangers can result in higher healthcare costs, unnecessary treatments and procedures, inappropriately brief or lengthy hospital stays, injuries, and even death.
Evidence of substance abuse is on the rise among physicians, and the risks associated with substance-related medical malpractice are considerable. If your doctor has been disciplined for substance abuse or if you believe you may have been treated and harmed by an impaired medical professional, consult a San Diego medical malpractice attorney with Thorsnes Bartolotta McGuire as soon as possible.