There is no doubt that the practice of medicine is stressful. There is immense pressure on getting it right, because failure could mean serious injuries or death. The overwhelming majority of doctors in upstate New York do take this responsibility seriously, but there are some doctors who are reckless or who let the pressure get to them. For the patients of these doctors, there is a real risk of medical malpractice.
Take one out-of-state doctor as an example. His alleged dependence on alcohol and drugs has had serious consequences. A number of his patients have been paralyzed with both paraplegia and quadriplegia. Many of them must now use wheelchairs because they can no longer walk. One man has even said that part of his spinal cord was removed in what should have been a simple back surgery.
This does not even cover the two patients who died after the surgeon operated on them.
The surgeon invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination when asked under oath if he had ever used drugs or alcohol when caring for a patient.
For those in upstate New York saying this could never happen here, government studies have found otherwise. Unfortunately, studies estimate one in 10 practicing physicians has an addiction to drugs or alcohol. That is an estimated 100,000 doctors.
Yes, practicing medicine can be difficult and the margin of error is very thin, but doctors should also know better than anyone what the dangers of practicing medicine is while high. They know that they are putting their patients' lives at risk by coming to work drunk or impaired, and should be held responsible accordingly.
Source: NBC TODAY, "Is your doctor stoned? Physicians with substance abuse problems continue to work," Jeff Rossen and Charlie McLravy, June 16, 2014