Patient Harm at the Hands of Impaired Clinicians
Many reports on the issue of drug and alcohol use among those in the medical profession have found that substance abuse is widespread. However, rigorous standards are in place to keep patients safe from negligently “high” doctors. But recently adding to the issue is the possible impact the legalization of sales and recreational use of marijuana in Illinois may have on a physician’s performance. Undoubtedly, some doctors and health care professionals are likely to take a personal interest in the consumption of legal pot, especially as environmental triggers and workplace stressors commonly felt by overworked medical professionals are known to drive a person toward chemical or substance dependencies.
We hope that these practitioners appreciate the boundaries related to performing the duty of care owed to their patients and that they understand some users may be incapable of fulfilling that duty and as a result – cause harm to their patients.
Suspecting Medical Negligence Due to Drug Impairments
It may be difficult for patients to understand whether or not a doctor is under the influence. Most of the time, the issues will manifest into problematic decision-making that can be identified when a medical malpractice case is opened. For example, preventable errors and physician negligence may come in the form of surgical mistakes, missed diagnoses, medication and medical record flaws, emergency room oversights, and a patient’s privacy being violated. Doctors who have drug, alcohol or substance abuse problems while in practice may exhibit these warning signs provided by the American Addiction Centers.
- Difficulties performing routine duties during your visits or treatment sessions
- Problematic decision-making
- Disinterest in addressing your medication needs
- Chronically late for appointments
- Receiving poor and the wrong care
- Inappropriate behavior
- Changes in physical appearance, such as wearing dirty clothing and a lack of interest in grooming, weight loss
- Altered behavior, such as an inattentiveness
- Drastic changes in your doctor-patient relationship
- A noticeable lack of energy when performing physician duties
- Bloodshot eyes, poor skin tone, and appearing tired or run down
- Overall defensiveness over patient requests
Surprisingly, a 2018 Journal of Addiction Medicine study shows that the consumption problem exists when doctors are on-duty, meaning that patients are frequently at risk as a result. Also, prescription narcotic abuse is quite common within the medical field, likely a product of the accessibility of drugs and other substances to these professionals.
Although different drugs may influence the ability of a medical employee, including doctors, nurses, and assistants, the law demands each provide the level of care expected.
Legal Help for Patients Harmed by Medical Malpractice
It is evident that for medical professionals to provide reasonable care, they must have their wits about them at all times. When they fail in this regard and a patient is harmed, a malpractice lawsuit is an avenue through which those hurt (or their families) can seek redress and accountability.
If you have experienced medical malpractice in Chicago or throughout Illinois, take action immediately. Call Levin & Perconti at 877-374-1417 or 312-332-2872 to set up a free consultation with an experienced medical malpractice lawyer.