This pertains to all area's of medicine and I am concerned about this in every area of my life. I have children who may need medical attention from time to time and no matter how old they are, if anything happened to them because of negligence like this I would feel responsible til the day I died. I have parents nearing their 70's, who have so far been very healthy, but also pretty trusting of the medical establishment that I have little faith in. It's a powerless feeling because I'm not often included in the loop when they are going to see the doctor most of the time, I hear about it afterwards. I also spend a reasonable amount of time providing advocacy for my clients in the hospital during labor and birth, and while I can't look back and pick out ANYONE who appeared to be under the influence, it seems improbable, based on these statistics, that I haven't been in the presence of a doctor or nurse who was abusing prescription drugs while actively providing care for one of my clients. Tolerance is a powerful thing, and if the man in this piece could have been taking 100 doses of Vicodin per day and no one knew he was under the influence, the same is true for all the others too. He's human and so are they.
I have to admit that while I am highly skeptical of the privatized, for-profit model of medical care in our country, and I am very aware of over-treatment caused by policy, practice, desensitization and fear of litigation, this idea had literally NEVER crossed my mind. They are just people, and subject to substance abuse as much...if not more so than everyone else. Doctors may even be uniquely positioned to have a higher than average rate of substance abuse.
- Easy access to pharmaceuticals
- Friends with other docs who can/will write a prescription
- PTSD or other mood disorders
- Crazy hours