Drug testing for doctors may become routine

New Jersey residents who were harmed by bad medical practices might be interested in a report that says that their physician's judgment may be clouded by drugs or alcohol. While the percentage of doctors affected by addiction is about 10 percent, the problem is, according to recent investigative reports, something that needs to be reversed.

According to government statistics, about 100,000 doctors nationwide are addicted to drugs or alcohol. One such doctor from Tennessee who once practiced medicine while using drugs has become a vocal opponent of physician drug use. Although he is still a practicing physician, he maintains that he has not used drugs for the past 10 years and that he never harmed a patient while using them.

Another doctor in Dallas, a prominent neurosurgeon, denies the use of drugs and alcohol while working. However, the medical board knows of allegations of drug use at work and botched surgeries that left some patients paralyzed. While never charged, the doctor's license has been revoked due to violations of the standard of care.

California legislators are advocating a law that seeks mandatory random drug testing for doctors who are part of hospitals' staffs. The policy would be similar to the one used by the Federal Aviation Administration and would also require drug testing if a patient dies due to a preventable error.

A doctor can easily make mistakes if drugs cloud his or her judgment. This affects the care that is provided to patients by causing it to greatly deviate from expected standards. If a patient is left paralyzed or suffers a permanent injury, he or she may file a medical malpractice claim against the physician and the medical facility. An attorney could assist by reviewing medical records and helping the patient file the claim in civil court.