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Shouldn't doctors be drug tested?

Readers in South Carolina may be interested in some research that shows substance abuse among doctors is 18 percent higher than it is in the general population. Yet, unlike other professions, such as teachers, athletes and even bus drivers, doctors aren't required to take urine tests that look for the presence of illegal drugs. Another statistic indicates that almost two out of every 10 doctors abuse alcohol and drugs. It is an issue that may impact a patient's standard of care.

There is also evidence that state medical associations attempt to protect doctors who are abusing drugs and alcohol. For example, a doctor who was found guilty of dealing drugs and using meth was recently allowed to get his medical license back after a year of suspension. Critics point to the fact that teachers, police officers and lawyers would likely lose their credentials for similar types of convictions.

There is also evidence that drug manufacturers share some of the blame. These companies are allowed to give doctors expensive gifts, fancy meals and offer seminars in exotic locations. There are also sources that allege insurance giant Kaiser Permanente pays the dues for thousands of members of the California Medical Association each year. An investigation by the Los Angeles Times also showed an alarming rise in teens and young adults who are overdosing on medications they get from doctors who work in alleged "pain management" settings. The medical association has fought any further regulations over these types of prescriptions.

It may be wise to contact a medical malpractice attorney if an individual feels that he or she was injured due to the doctor being impaired by drugs are alcohol. An attorney may be able to review the case and recommend legal remedies that could include a monetary settlement for malpractice along with compensation for pain and suffering.

Source: Huffington Post, "Shouldn't Doctors Have to Pee in a Cup Too?", Jamie Court, October 10, 2013

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