Medical professionals, especially those that work in hospital settings, are often highly aware of how drug addiction and alcoholism can both lead to major medical issues. While you might imagine that the combination of their medical training and their hands-on experience would keep them far away from addiction and substance abuse, the truth is that substance abuse is a well-known issue in the medical profession.
The pressure involved in making life-and-death decisions for others and the stress that comes from working long shifts and spending time away from family can contribute to substance abuse disorders. Additionally, the easy access that professionals have to narcotic pain relievers and other addictive substances might allow them to quietly struggle through addiction without anyone knowing.
Unfortunately, nurses, doctors and other medical professionals with substance abuse disorders might make mistakes that lead to harm to their patients.
Intoxication and withdrawal both affect job performance
Someone who comes to work while under the influence of drugs or alcohol or who ingests mind-altering substances at work could make any number of mistakes while performing their job. While they may view themselves as a functional addict, the truth is that they will have impaired decision making, reduced memory function and even motor function issues related to their chemical impairment.
Standards for the medical profession mandate sobriety. Even those taking prescribed medication may have no choice but to take a leave of absence until their symptoms improve. Those rules may also limit the treatment options for medical workers struggling with addition. When hospital workers don’t get treatment for their addiction, their patients may suffer the consequence.
Medical mistakes can lead to malpractice claims
Obviously, trying to provide medical care while under the influence of alcohol or another mind-altering drug is a major deviation from best practices for the industry. Whenever a patient who suffered a poor outcome can show that the behavior or negligence of a medical professional was directly to blame, they may have grounds to file a malpractice insurance claim or civil lawsuit.
Although addiction may explain why a medical professional made a mistake, it will not undo the harm they caused. Filing a medical malpractice claim can help you reduce the negative impact of a medical mistake and either push a facility into better safety practices or a professional into seeking substance abuse treatment.