Thousands Of Doctors Secretly In Rehab While Practicing - page 2

"Troubling cases in which doctors were accused of botching operations while undergoing treatment for drugs or alcohol have led to criticism of rehab programs that allow thousands U.S. physicians to... Read More

  1. by   woody62
    Physicians and Boards of Medicine are not known for their ability to self police. When their insurance rates go up, they blame attorneys and greedy patients. When they suffer from addictions, regardless of the kind, their peers protect them. It takes a great deal to have a physician's license revoked and once again their peers are known to protect them. I believe it is out of fear of their own faults. It even takes a great deal to get the DEA to revoke a physician's narcotic number.

    I knew two physicians who lost their licenses here in Florida. One went to the Bahamas and opened up a very lucrative practice of his own. He lost his license when one of his patient's complained to the local police department about his drug use and his pressuring her to perform a sex act for him. The other gave up his license after he was caught driving and charged with a DUI. And complicated it by pressuring a patient to obtain street drugs for him. Both were excellent surgeons with very bad habits. And fortunately, one was smart enough to give up his own practice.

    Woody
  2. by   Praise,RN
    It amazes me how supportive the medical board is when it comes to issues like these. On the other hand, the nursing boards are totally different. I find the nursing boards tend to be more harsh in disciplining licenses over the years than the medical board. What will it take for us to become more supportive of each others issues as professionals, rather than trying to definitely take away a persons career. How is that helping slove the problem? I do not know of any nurse in my state who has been allowed to practice while going through drug rehab...That shows you that we as a nursing profession really need to rethink some things..specifically the individuals who are in board positions and on the discipline committee. I personally think the nursing discpline committee strives to prove a point and/or make a public statement, rather than be effective in the discipline process.....Just my soap box
  3. by   sharona97
    Quote from Praise,RN
    It amazes me how supportive the medical board is when it comes to issues like these. On the other hand, the nursing boards are totally different. I find the nursing boards tend to be more harsh in disciplining licenses over the years than the medical board. What will it take for us to become more supportive of each others issues as professionals, rather than trying to definitely take away a persons career. How is that helping slove the problem? I do not know of any nurse in my state who has been allowed to practice while going through drug rehab...That shows you that we as a nursing profession really need to rethink some things..specifically the individuals who are in board positions and on the discipline committee. I personally think the nursing discpline committee strives to prove a point and/or make a public statement, rather than be effective in the discipline process.....Just my soap box
    Sorry to interject, but I couldn't let it go: What will it take for us to become more supportive of each others issues as professionals, rather than trying to definitely take away a persons career? The doc who took away my career at its peak was due to a misdiagnosis. I had the papers in my hand to report him to the medical board for negligence.... but I didn't, couldn't. Why? Good question. Your statement gave me an honest to goodness flashback and I wasn't dancin either.
    OK, I'm done with that hijack now... continue on..

    Thanks.
  4. by   ♪♫ in my ♥
    Hmm, this makes me wonder if the buffoon of a radiologist who misread by daughter's CT scan might have been reading it after a 3-martini lunch. Blurred vision is about the only explanation I can come up with.

    Scary stuff.

    Agreed that they should have an opportunity to receive treatment before losing their professions but if they fail to faithfully "work the program" and perhaps submit to some over-the-shoulder peer review, they have NO BUSINESS treating patients.
  5. by   TeleNurse2010
    Quote from TheCommuter
    I can't help it...I wanted to be a mystery novelist during my early and middle childhood years, but life swept me in a different direction. Now I'm a lowly LVN.
    You're anything but lowly! :spin: It's never too late to write a book! I'm sure you could find time if you are so inclined, as you write very well. But I digress...
  6. by   TiredMD
    Quote from ♪♫ in my ♥
    Agreed that they should have an opportunity to receive treatment before losing their professions but if they fail to faithfully "work the program" and perhaps submit to some over-the-shoulder peer review, they have NO BUSINESS treating patients.
    Physicians who are reported to the Impaired Physicians Committee of their respective state board are not given the "opportunity" to get treatment. They are instructed what they must do to retain their license, and the conditions and oversight are stringent. Typically the success rates of these programs are >90% in maintaining remission.

    It is unfortunate that many posters here have the perception that there is some kind of conspiracy to allow impaired physicians to continue to practice. This is simply not the case. There is a ton of oversight and supervision (often for years), and the medical boards take this issue extremely seriously. However, because these issues are protected by privacy laws, the actions of these boards are not commonly made public, which contributes to the notion that addicted doctors are being "protected" when in fact they are not.

    I do not know how nursing works, but I hope they are similarly supportive.
  7. by   woody62
    Quote from TiredMD
    Physicians who are reported to the Impaired Physicians Committee of their respective state board are not given the "opportunity" to get treatment. They are instructed what they must do to retain their license, and the conditions and oversight are stringent. Typically the success rates of these programs are >90% in maintaining remission.

    It is unfortunate that many posters here have the perception that there is some kind of conspiracy to allow impaired physicians to continue to practice. This is simply not the case. There is a ton of oversight and supervision (often for years), and the medical boards take this issue extremely seriously. However, because these issues are protected by privacy laws, the actions of these boards are not commonly made public, which contributes to the notion that addicted doctors are being "protected" when in fact they are not.

    I do not know how nursing works, but I hope they are similarly supportive.
    I am sorry doctor but you are wrong. Physicians rarely have their license revoked due to impairment, be it alcohol or drugs. Physicians loath to call another physician on his drinking or drugging. You allow physicians multiple chances to get sober or drug free. Rarely are nurses ever afford the same chance by our state Boards of Nursing. I suggest you go the the state of Florida's website for professional nurses and physicians. And try comparing the number of physicians who lose their license to the number of professional nurses. And unlike physicians, when we are accused of violating our regulations, we are not allowed to hide behind the wall of privacy, unlike physicians.

    Woody
  8. by   PLTSGT
    Quote from TiredMD
    Physicians who are reported to the Impaired
    I do not know how nursing works, but I hope they are similarly supportive.

    Nurses have peer support group as well.

    As far as how the impaired nurses are being treated is also stringent. I believe the reason why nurses who are in recovery sees their counterpart (physicians) being protected is because if the doctor gets caught he or she continually gets to practice (of course under monitoring). On the other hand, nurses in most cases (probably >98% of the time), will lose his or her job for at least a year and a half while going through the hoops of the monitoring program.
    Last edit by PLTSGT on Dec 21, '07
  9. by   hollyvk
    Quote from Praise,RN
    It amazes me how supportive the medical board is when it comes to issues like these. On the other hand, the nursing boards are totally different. I find the nursing boards tend to be more harsh in disciplining licenses over the years than the medical board. What will it take for us to become more supportive of each others issues as professionals, rather than trying to definitely take away a persons career. How is that helping slove the problem? I do not know of any nurse in my state who has been allowed to practice while going through drug rehab...That shows you that we as a nursing profession really need to rethink some things..specifically the individuals who are in board positions and on the discipline committee. I personally think the nursing discpline committee strives to prove a point and/or make a public statement, rather than be effective in the discipline process.....Just my soap box
    Thank you Praise for raising this issue.

    The typical scenario for the abusing nurse is he/she either shows up at work under the influence or makes the mistake of stealing drugs at work. This is discovered, a UA for drugs may be demanded, the nurse is brought down for "counseling" where admin tries to pressure him/her into confessing (followed by termination), and if no confession, termination of employment happens if there is sufficient evidence of impairment or theft in the employer's eyes. Most BONs require the facility to report terminations for cause, and especially if the "cause" is drug or alcohol-related. The facility must also report any controlled substance thefts to the FDA, in many states it must also be reported to the entity (such as the state health dept) that licenses the facility, and the facility may also choose to report it to local police. From this point, the nurse has to deal with the BON, usually on his/her own.

    BONs are made up largely of other nurses, and many of them have had the "eat the young" type of attitude that drug abuse is not something a "good nurse" ever does. I do think that this attitude has improved some over time. The impaired nurse will wait to hear from the BON on the matter, have his/her license suspended or revoked, and be referred to a drug rehab program. If the nurse successfully completes the program, he/she can petition the BON for license reinstatement. The BON will require random UA drug checks for period of time. If the nurse fails the rehab or the UAs, the BON will move to permanently revoke the license if it was suspended.

    Now, if it's a physician with the alcohol/drug abuse problem, the typical process is as follows. His/her impairment or drug diversion is discovered by the facility, which suspends his privilges to practice medicine at that facility and reports the situation to the medical board. (The rest of the reporting is the same as above--FDA, state heath dept, police). The physician calls one of the attorneys who specializes in medical board representation and finds out how to make the best out of his/her bad situation. This typically involves the physician and his/her attorney notifying the board about the sitation, surrendering the license, and going to a rehab program (typically an inpatient one, there are several in the country that specialize in treating physicians). After that, the physician can petition the medical board for reinstatement of the license. The board will require his/her practice be supervised and he/her will have to submit to random drug UAs.

    The medical board members understand the huge financial impact of license loss to the physician, as well as the societal cost of loss of a valued practitioner. I think the BONs often figure the impaired nurse can just find another way to make a living without a nursing license, and the BON will have done its job to keep the public safe (as well as maintaining the integrity of the profession). I think this represents the differences between the two professions and is based in large part on the gender and financial differences between the two.

    HollyVK RN, BSN, JD
  10. by   Logos
    Do you guys really care if your doctor smokes pot or drinks alcohol while he or she is off duty?
    I do not. As long as he or she arrives to work clean and sober- why would anyone take his or her medical license for something that was done while NOT treating patients. If they get a DUI they should receive the same treatment as everyone else- not above and beyond. I guess I don't see why we expect Doctor's to be held to a higher code of whatever than the average Joe. Get a fine, do 30 days, whatever- but if it was not done while treating patients than leave the medical license out of it. I guess I just think that not everyone physician who uses recreational drugs such as alcohol and pot is an addict. I think that the term "recreational" for some people may in fact be just that.
    Now don't everyone jump to the conclusion that I use recreational drugs- I don't- but other people who do do not strike terror in my heart. Now come to work or get behind the wheel drunk and I would fry your ass- but at home on your own time- feel free-it's your life.
  11. by   rph3664
    I knew one pharmacist who lost his license because he was drinking cough syrup right out of the bottle, in clear sight of grocery store customers. Makes me think he WANTED to get caught.

    And I had a classmate whose license was suspended because he was involved in meth manufacture. Can't say I was especially surprised, but was that a stupid decision on his part or what?

    Another man who started off in my class was kicked out because he was selling marijuana.

    The salutatorian of the class two years ahead of me thought she had a promising career at Walgreens , where she had worked for 8 years as a technician. I met her at a summer convention, which we attended for free because we were students, and Walgreens had refused to hire her on as a pharmacist. It quickly became apparent why: she was a very severe alcoholic. I had guessed her to be in her early 40s but she was 27. To my knowledge, she has never had a "real" pharmacy job (just relief work in a rural area) and despite this, she works closely with the state board. She was married at the time, and I certainly hope she didn't have any kids.

    We once had a man speak to our class who lost his license because he used his own drugs, and worked at a treatment center for health care professionals. The thing that really sticks in my mind is that he would drink bottles of Tylenol #3 liquid and chase it with Mucomyst to avert acetaminophen poisoning. When he said that, I said, out loud in the lecture hall, "This dude was hardcore!" because I knew what Mucomyst smells like.

    Several of my classmates were not hired by the large hospital in our college town because they were involved in a prostitution ring. There was a guy in our class who was married with a young child and wanted to do some things sexually that his wife was not interested in, so he paid girls to do those things. Saying what they were would probably get me banned, so I will spare you, but it was pretty out there.

    But one of my co-workers can top that. She had a classmate who killed somebody. His wealthy parents got the charges reduced to involuntary manslaughter, but anyway.......don't know where, or if, he's practicing anywhere.

    I have known pharmacists who I believe used recreational drugs in their off hours, but if they were not stealing them from the workplace and it didn't affect their job performance, there really wasn't much their employers or the state board can do. This is certainly true for people who have non-licensed jobs as well.
    Last edit by rph3664 on Dec 22, '07 : Reason: Remembered something else
  12. by   PLTSGT
    Quote from rph3664
    I knew one pharmacist who lost his license because he was drinking cough syrup right out of the bottle, in clear sight of grocery store customers. Makes me think he WANTED to get caught.

    And I had a classmate whose license was suspended because he was involved in meth manufacture. Can't say I was especially surprised, but was that a stupid decision on his part or what?

    Another man who started off in my class was kicked out because he was selling marijuana.

    The salutatorian of the class two years ahead of me thought she had a promising career at Walgreens , where she had worked for 8 years as a technician. I met her at a summer convention, which we attended for free because we were students, and Walgreens had refused to hire her on as a pharmacist. It quickly became apparent why: she was a very severe alcoholic. I had guessed her to be in her early 40s but she was 27. To my knowledge, she has never had a "real" pharmacy job (just relief work in a rural area) and despite this, she works closely with the state board. She was married at the time, and I certainly hope she didn't have any kids.

    We once had a man speak to our class who lost his license because he used his own drugs, and worked at a treatment center for health care professionals. The thing that really sticks in my mind is that he would drink bottles of Tylenol #3 liquid and chase it with Mucomyst to avert acetaminophen poisoning. When he said that, I said, out loud in the lecture hall, "This dude was hardcore!" because I knew what Mucomyst smells like.

    Several of my classmates were not hired by the large hospital in our college town because they were involved in a prostitution ring. There was a guy in our class who was married and wanted to do some things sexually that his wife was not interested in, so he paid girls to do those things. Saying what they were would probably get me banned, so I will spare you, but it was pretty out there.

    But one of my co-workers can top that. She had a classmate who killed somebody. His wealthy parents got the charges reduced to involuntary manslaughter, but anyway.......don't know where, or if, he's practicing anywhere.

    I have known pharmacists who I believe used recreational drugs in their off hours, but if they were not stealing them from the workplace and it didn't affect their job performance, there really wasn't much their employers or the state board can do. This is certainly true for people who have non-licensed jobs as well.

    I believe you. There are things that are happening out there even though society thinks that healthcare professionals are up on the pedestal. One thing for sure though, if a peer is out to get someone, he or she will stir things up just to get that using person in trouble regardless if the user uses drugs away from work and does not affect the job.

    Do pharmacists have a similar support group like the ones in nursing? Ist it as supportive?
  13. by   lindarn
    Quote from hollyvk
    Thank you Praise for raising this issue.

    The typical scenario for the abusing nurse is he/she either shows up at work under the influence or makes the mistake of stealing drugs at work. This is discovered, a UA for drugs may be demanded, the nurse is brought down for "counseling" where admin tries to pressure him/her into confessing (followed by termination), and if no confession, termination of employment happens if there is sufficient evidence of impairment or theft in the employer's eyes. Most BONs require the facility to report terminations for cause, and especially if the "cause" is drug or alcohol-related. The facility must also report any controlled substance thefts to the FDA, in many states it must also be reported to the entity (such as the state health dept) that licenses the facility, and the facility may also choose to report it to local police. From this point, the nurse has to deal with the BON, usually on his/her own.

    BONs are made up largely of other nurses, and many of them have had the "eat the young" type of attitude that drug abuse is not something a "good nurse" ever does. I do think that this attitude has improved some over time. The impaired nurse will wait to hear from the BON on the matter, have his/her license suspended or revoked, and be referred to a drug rehab program. If the nurse successfully completes the program, he/she can petition the BON for license reinstatement. The BON will require random UA drug checks for period of time. If the nurse fails the rehab or the UAs, the BON will move to permanently revoke the license if it was suspended.

    Now, if it's a physician with the alcohol/drug abuse problem, the typical process is as follows. His/her impairment or drug diversion is discovered by the facility, which suspends his privilges to practice medicine at that facility and reports the situation to the medical board. (The rest of the reporting is the same as above--FDA, state heath dept, police). The physician calls one of the attorneys who specializes in medical board representation and finds out how to make the best out of his/her bad situation. This typically involves the physician and his/her attorney notifying the board about the sitation, surrendering the license, and going to a rehab program (typically an inpatient one, there are several in the country that specialize in treating physicians). After that, the physician can petition the medical board for reinstatement of the license. The board will require his/her practice be supervised and he/her will have to submit to random drug UAs.

    The medical board members understand the huge financial impact of license loss to the physician, as well as the societal cost of loss of a valued practitioner. I think the BONs often figure the impaired nurse can just find another way to make a living without a nursing license, and the BON will have done its job to keep the public safe (as well as maintaining the integrity of the profession). I think this represents the differences between the two professions and is based in large part on the gender and financial differences between the two.

    HollyVK RN, BSN, JD
    Where I worked here in Spokane, we had a nurse who was suspected for a while of diverting narcotics. They placed a hidden camera in the medication room, and security monitored it. One night they finally caught her. The supervisor confronted her, and had called in the NM, Director of Nursing, called the police, who handcuffed her in front of everyone, staff, patients, family, and hauled her off to jail.

    A couple of years before this, a male nurse was also suspected of diverting narcotics. When they caught him, if was a whole other story. He was allowed to go to a program, but remained on the job. He was just not allowed to carry the narcotic keys, or administer any controlled substances, and because they "wanted to protect his privacy", they decided that he would not float anywhere for a year, so he wouldn' have to reveal that he was in a drug program with the BON. What a difference gender makes!

    Lindarn, RN ,BSN, CCRN
    Spokane, Washington

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