Substance Abuse Dependency Among Surgeons A Concern

Some of the best doctors may appear to be super-human when they perform miraculous operations that save lives in even the direst situations. However, all doctors are human like the rest of us and prone to the same strengths and weakness that affect all of us. Medical malpractice lawyers do not believe that doctors should be held to any standard different than that of other professionals. However, like any other community member, the civil law requires that those doctors-and relevant institutions-provide redress when their mistakes cause harm to another.

When an Illinois medical malpractice lawsuit is filed it does not necessarily mean that the doctor involved in inherently substandard. Instead, it may simply have been an individual lapse in judgment or care that can simply occur because human beings are not perfect. Redress still needs to be provided and accountability had but it does not necessarily speak to the work that the doctor is capable of performing in the future. Every situation must be examined on a case-by-case basis with general judgments avoided.

However, at times medical malpractice lawsuits can be helpful in rooting out underlying problems that are not caught until an egregious mistake is made that leads to injury. Certain doctors who pose too great a risk to patients must not be allowed to practice, and lawsuits are one of the few ways where those doctors are often held accountable. For example, doctors who have substance abuse problems may pose tremendous risks to patients. In fact, new survey results posted by Health Day suggests that, in some medical fields, the substance abuse problem may be particularly high.

A new poll found that a shocking 15% of surgeons may have alcohol dependency problems. That is almost double the 8% rate seen nationally among all adults. The results of the poll were published in the February issue of Archives of Surgery. However, those discussing the case suggest that the actual rate of patient harm caused by the impairment is very rare. The doctors claimed that the patient injury due to chemical impairment may occur as little as one in every 10,000 patients. The veracity of that statistics cannot be confirmed, but it is true that blatant cases of errors caused by impaired doctors are not often made public.

That does not mean that this survey result is not without any benefit. One surgeon remarked, “the finding do beg the question as to why it is that every other safety-sensitive profession has random drug screenings, while surgeons do not.” He went on to buck the trends of others in his profession by noting, “Although it may not be a popular statement there’s no reason other interventionists involved in high-risk practice should not be tested. ”

Our Illinois medical malpractice lawyers were not surprised to find out that those doctors with apparent substance abuse issues were more likely to have committed a major medical mistake over the past three months. This may not necessary be caused by the abuse itself but by the joint factors of depression, exhaustion or burn out which may independently cause both the errors and substance abuse issues.

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