Substance abuse is a shocking epidemic in the health care industry — and it places both patients and professionals at risk. In the previous blog from this two-part series, we examined the prevalence of drug and alcohol abuse among doctors and nurses. Now, we’ll take a closer look at how these substances impact vulnerable patients:
Increased Risk of Surgical Errors
Perhaps the scariest implications of substance abuse on the job involve surgery. This niche requires exceptional precision; even slight impairment could lead to devastating outcomes. While medical professionals have been known to successfully perform surgery under the influence (with some even holding reputations as ‘accomplished boozers’), the risk of error rises dramatically as soon as substances enter the picture. Substance-related errors may also be more likely in anesthesiology, chemotherapy, and within other niches.
While some impaired physicians prove surprisingly competent in surgery or other job duties, many fail to engage in the seemingly minor preventative measures that hold huge implications for patient safety. Hygiene, in particular, can be a point of concern among impaired health care workers, who may fail to abide by hand-washing standards. This, in turn, could lead to an increased risk of infection among vulnerable patients.
Poor Bedside Manner
As mentioned in part I of this series, a doctor hit headlines by writing lewd notes on medical records while under the influence. This is just one example of inappropriate behavior that can occur when doctors drink or use drugs. In less drastic cases, impaired doctors may still struggle to connect with patients. This lack of rapport can lead to negative outcomes down the road.
Drug and alcohol use on the job constitutes the ultimate in negligence for doctors and nurses. Justice must be served; contact Regan Zambri Long PLLC to learn how this can be achieved via a medical malpractice lawsuit.