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Home >  News >  January, 2014

Doc with Positive Drug Test Gets Green Light to Return

Agreement with state's Department of Health includes ongoing monitoring.

Published: January 2, 2014

A Washington state osteopath who tested positive for narcotics after OR staff observed "abnormal behavior" during surgery can continue to practice as long as he meets specified conditions, under a probation agreement with the state's Department of Health, according to the Yakima (Wash.) Herald-Republic.

Michael Thomas, DO, was stopped mid-procedure in March 2012 while performing neck and spine surgery, and another physician completed the case. Later that day Dr. Thomas tested positive for narcotics and benzodiazepines.

The patient filed a malpractice suit against Dr. Thomas and Yakima Regional Medical and Cardiac Center, claiming she suffered permanent injuries as a result of his impairment. A March trial date has been set.

Dr. Thomas entered the Washington State Physicians Health Program shortly after the incident and followed up with outpatient treatment. This past July, the program said he was fit to continue practicing "within the context of treatment and monitoring." According to a Department of Health release, he must "undergo a medical evaluation and must participate in a substance abuse monitoring program."

Yakima Regional revoked his privileges after the incident. A call to the hospital by Outpatient Surgery Magazine to determine whether his privileges have been reinstated was not returned.

Dr. Thomas, who had back surgery in 2011, filled prescriptions for thousands of narcotic pills both before and after surgery, according to the state.

Jim Burger

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