Alcohol abuse is a problem that spans all occupations. However, it can be particularly dangerous when it involves doctors, nurses and other medical professionals.
The long hours and extreme stress involved in working in many medical settings are just two of the things that can lead health care providers to turn to alcohol and/or drugs. It’s been estimated that at least 10% of all doctors and 20% of nurses have a substance abuse problem at some point in their careers.
When medical professionals are drinking or using drugs on the job, they can make serious and even fatal errors involving patients. However, even if a person isn’t under the influence at work, excessive and long-term alcohol and drug abuse can have a substantial effect on their decision-making skills.
Texas doctor’s license suspended after an incident on duty
Just this week the Texas Medical Board (TMB) suspended the medical license of a doctor in Spring, which is just outside of Houston. The action comes after the doctor’s resignation “following an incident involving her drinking while on shift at her clinic.” The nature of that incident wasn’t disclosed. However, a disciplinary panel of the TMB determined that “her continuation in the practice of medicine poses a continuing threat to public welfare.”
The TMB’s suspension is temporary, pending a hearing (unless she waives her right to one). The Board will then decide what action to take regarding her license.
Sometimes malpractice is what finally prompts action
As patients, we hope that hospitals and other medical facilities have protocols in place to spot employees who have substance abuse problems and remove them from positions where they can endanger patients. We also hope that licensing boards like the TMB will take action to prevent them from practicing anywhere else – at least until they’ve gotten the treatment they need.
Unfortunately, these substance abuse issues too often aren’t dealt with until a doctor or nurse has harmed a patient. If you or a loved one is in this position, it’s essential that you find out what options you have for seeking justice and compensation.