Imagine the following scenario: you wake up in a hospital in the middle of a night and are trying to call a nurse to help you get up, but nobody responds. Or imagine that you are undergoing a surgery and the surgeon keeps taking unnecessary breaks in the course of the procedure. In the first scenario, nobody responds to your calls because the nurse got wasted and passed out somewhere in the hallway. In the second scenario, the surgeon keeps taking breaks to snort cocaine in the restroom.
Unfortunately, these two scenarios are becoming a disturbing reality, as the U.S. healthcare system is full of doctors, nurses, surgeons, physicians, and other medical professionals who treat patients and provide care while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
“When a healthcare provider drinks alcoholic beverages or uses drugs or controlled substances while on the job, they are more likely to cause serious and life-threatening injuries to their patients,” warns our Philadelphia drunk or intoxicated medical professional attorney from The Weitz Firm, LLC.
Many of you are probably familiar with how drinking alcohol or using drugs affects your ability to safely operate a vehicle without crashing into anyone or anything. In this regard, providing medical treatments is no different from driving a car, as being under the influence results in diminished decision-making ability, impaired vision, poor judgement, slow reaction times, impaired physical coordination, and diminished mental activity, among other things.
As you can imagine, providing medical care while experiencing all of the above is a disaster waiting to happen. Interestingly, however, even though all 50 states and the District of Columbia make it illegal to drive while intoxicated, only a few states actually prohibit medical professionals from working while intoxicated. Shocking, right?
“But that’s not the only thing that’s shocking,” says our experienced physician impairment attorney in Philadelphia. According to a 2014 study by USA Today, more than 100,000 physicians, doctors, nurses, surgeons, and other medical professionals in Pennsylvania and all across the U.S. are addicted to drugs or alcohol. But according to other studies, these numbers are quite modest, as one study estimates that as many as 10 percent of all medical professionals in the U.S. healthcare system are addicted to alcohol or drugs. That’s more than 350,000 medical professionals.
You can only imagine how easy it is for an impaired doctor, physician, nurse, surgeon or any other healthcare provider to make a medical mistake. An intoxicated doctor can easily misdiagnose your medical condition, while an impaired physician can easily prescribe you the wrong medication or wrong dosage. An intoxicated doctor can miss important indicators of a medical condition when reading your test results, while an impaired nurse can forget to check up on a patient in critical care.
If you are receiving pain medication throughout your hospital stay, you are twice as likely to suffer harm at the hands of medical professionals struggling with substance abuse. That because many drug-addicted doctors are “diverting” or siphoning off prescribed medications for personal use, which means you will receive only partial doses of the medication that you need to treat your condition.
If you think that your doctor, nurse, physician, surgeon, or other medical professional was stoned or drunk at the time of providing care, you may be able to sue him or her for medical malpractice. If you suspect a drunk or intoxicated medical professional to be responsible for causing you harm, contact our Philadelphia physician impairment lawyer from The Weitz Firm, LLC. Get a free consultation to discuss your case. Call at 267-587-6240 today.