Should Hospitals Test Doctors for Drugs and Alcohol?

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Two Johns Hopkins doctors and patient safety experts recently published an online comment on the Journal of the American Medical Association website that has people talking. In that comment, the experts allegedly suggested that hospitals could improve patient safety by randomly testing doctors for the presence of drugs or alcohol in their systems. Additionally, these experts suggest that all doctors be tested for the presence of drugs or alcohol following the unexpected death of a patient or another significant event.

In the comment, they suggest that doctors are as susceptible to drug and alcohol addiction as the general public, yet they are not tested. They also argue that other industries that have an interest in public safety, such as the airline industry and nuclear power plant industry, require such testing.

What Would Happen if a Doctor Was Found to Be Impaired?

If such a system of physician drug-and-alcohol testing were implemented, then there would need to be consequences for doctors who were found to be under the influence while at work. Experts suggest that appropriate consequences may include suspension or revocation of hospital privileges, reporting the physician to the state licensing board, mandatory treatment, and/or ongoing testing if the physician does return to work.

Physicians under the influence of drugs or alcohol present a huge risk to the safety of their patients and others. Our Kentucky medical malpractice lawyers wish anyone hurt by a doctor who was intoxicated a full and fast recovery from their medical malpractice injuries.