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When Doctors Abuse Drugs

October 8th, 2018
By Zach Christiansen of The Bowling Christiansen Law Firm, A Professional Law Corporation on Monday, October 8, 2018.

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana. Alcoholism and drug addiction is a disease that can impact anyone–whether you’re a neurosurgeon or a barista. In fact, ProPublica recently conducted an investigative report on a neurosurgeon deemed so “bad” that he eventually faced criminal charges. Among the concerns raised about the doctor was his frequent use of drugs and alcohol.

Drug addiction among doctors is not rare. According to the Los Angeles Times as many as 15% of doctors might have an addiction problem. In fact, drug addiction among medical professionals may be higher than the general population. While drug addiction among the general population averages between 8 and 10%, the Los Angeles Times reports that addiction among doctors can be as high as 10 to 15%. When you consider the fact that doctors might have easier access to prescription drugs, and when you consider the long hours, the stress, and the night shifts that some doctors put it, it is easy to see why drug addiction might be an issue in the medical profession.

Doctors are also prone to suffer greater degrees of anxiety due to the nature of their job. They may suffer from depression and they may be more likely to burn out due to their long hours and due to the stress of the job. While some doctors are able to find healthy ways to cope, others struggle and some turn to drugs or alcohol. Others might turn to more deadly drugs, like prescription opioids.

Unfortunately, according to the Los Angeles Times, there are few resources for doctors with addiction issues. Doctors who seek help might face the real possibility that they can lose their medical license.

When doctors are addicted to drugs or alcohol, what measures are in place to stop them from hurting patients? According to ProPublica’s investigative report, sometimes the measures in place are simply not sufficient. The doctor who left a trail of injuries and devastation in his wake worked at several hospitals, where his services were deemed so valuable, he simply was not fired. Furthermore, because of medical malpractice caps and laws, patients who looked to sue the doctor were not able to find attorneys willing to help them.

While the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has a database of doctors that are known to be problematic, the system relies on the doctors getting reported. If no one reports the doctors, they can theoretically continue practicing without impunity.

Unfortunately, many doctors seek addiction treatment or help after it is too late, after lives have been impacted and people have been hurt. Families who are left picking up the pieces may find themselves struggling financially and hurting. The Bowling Christiansen Law Firm are medical malpractice attorneys in New Orleans, Louisiana who work closely with victims and families who have been impacted by medical errors. If you or a loved one has been hurt due to the actions of a doctor, you may have rights under the law. Visit us at to learn more.

The Bowling Christiansen Law Firm, A Professional Law Corporation

1615 Poydras Street, Suite 1050

New Orleans, Louisiana, 70112

Phone: (504) 586-5200

Toll Free: (504) 586-5200

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