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Doctors Under the Influence

We all know how incredibly reckless (and criminal) it is to get behind the wheel of a car while intoxicated. Driving under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or other substances that alter one’s perceptions leads to accidents, death, and destruction. It goes without saying that the law provides recourse for those hurt by the obvious negligence of those driving drunk.

Similarly, each Illinois medical malpractice attorney at our firm appreciates that medical professionals are incapable of providing the care patients need when they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Yet, it is naive to assume that cases of “drunk doctoring” do not occur. A recent Digital Journal story on the issue reminders readers of the ways that medical professionals may violate the trust of the trust of a patient while providing care

The Problem
For one thing, it is important to understand that many different substances may influence the ability of a medical employee (including doctors, nurses,and assistants) to provide the level of care that the law demands. Amazingly, several studies into the issue have found that substance abuse–particularly of alcohol–is widespread in the medical profession. In addition, prescription narcotic abuse is quite common, likely a product of the accessibility of the substances to these professionals.

None of this is an attack on the profession or its practitioners. The legal field faces the same problem. But in all cases it is unacceptable, particularly when lives hang in the balance. Surprisingly, data on the subject shows that the consumption problem exists when doctors are on-duty, meaning that patients are frequently at risk as a result of the problem.

The types of errors that are traced back to substance abuse run the gamut. Essentially all forms of medical malpractice are more likely to occur when the medical practitioner is intoxicated or otherwise not in their right mental state. Surgical errors, missed diagnoses, medication errors, emergency room oversights, and other errors might be traced back to this problem.

Sometimes it might be difficult for patients hurt in this way to understand whether or not a doctor is under the influence. Most of the time the problem will manifest in problematic decision-making that can be identified by common evidentiary methods. If test results are improperly read or surgical procedures negligently performed, legal professionals may be able to obtain medical records, deposition testimony, and other information to prove that errors were made.

Legal Help
Medicine is an increasingly complex and technical field. It is obvious 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 patients are harmed, then the civil law is an avenue through which those hurt (or their families) can seek redress and accountability. If you find yourself in this situation in our state, contact the Illinois medical malpractice attorneys at our firm to see how we can help.

See Our Related Blog Posts:

CNN’s “Ten Shocking Medical Mistakes”

Danger of Illinois Anesthesia Errors