Home >  News >  April, 2014

1 in 10 Healthcare Workers Abuse Drugs

Undetected or untreated, impaired providers put patients at risk.

Published: April 16, 2014

More than 100,000 physicians, nurses, techs and other healthcare employees are drug addicts, according to federal data. Those are just the known cases. Studies estimate that 1 in 10 healthcare workers have suffered from substance abuse during their lives.

The issue of impaired providers, along with the drug diversion that often fuels their addictions and the risks it places on their unwitting patients, is complicated by the lack of a consistent and effective response, according to a feature story in the April 16 edition of USA Today.

"Much of the damage goes unnoticed or undocumented; systems to detect, report and address drug problems in health care settings are haphazard and limited," the article notes.

While the cases of some impaired practitioners and oxycodone- or fentanyl-thieving employees have made high-profile headlines, on-the-job substance abuse doesn't always manifest itself in infectious outbreaks, investigations, prosecutions and discipline. Sometimes it goes undetected and results in isolated medical mistakes, medication errors or missed warnings.

Drug-testing regulations and the prescribed response to offenders vary from state to state, the article points out, which opens the door for impaired employees finding work elsewhere without a mark on their records. Additionally, as described in the stories of practitioners who have undergone rehabilitation, the path to professional assistance and recovery is strewn with pitfalls.

David Bernard


Also in the News...

OR Fire Reveals N.Y.C. Hospital's Safety Deficit
Who Was to Blame for Unnecessary Appendectomy?
Woman Left Brain-Damaged After Gastric Surgery Blames Manufacturer for Insufficient Surgeon Training
Researchers Target the 7 Deadliest and Most Expensive Emergency Surgeries
FDA Panel: Synthetic Cartilage Implant for Big Toe Should Be Approved
No One Recognizes Retained Objects, But Judge Won't Toss Negligence Case
Big Companies Offering Big Perk to Employees: Free Surgery

New to Outpatient Surgery Magazine?
Sign-up to continue reading this article.
Register Now
Have an account? Please log in:
Email Address:
  Remember my login on this computer

advertiser banner

Other Articles That May Interest You

Can Antibiotics Successfully Treat Appendicitis?

Study finds that majority of patients suffering from appendicitis can be treated with antibiotics alone.

News & Notes

Surgical Assistant Catches Nurse Anesthetist Fondling Himself in OR

The cellphone video is part of a lawsuit that allegedly shows a pattern of sexual harassment at a California hospital.