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The Real Danger of Impaired Physicians

By Grant Law Office on December 19, 2018

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When you put yourself under the care of medical providers, you are putting your health and possibly your life in their hands. If the doctor treating you is impaired—whether due to alcohol, drugs, or mental illness—it is the ultimate betrayal of your trust.

Because of their extensive education and training, physicians are held in very high regard. We all have a difficult time believing that someone who has taken the Hippocratic Oath would put our well-being at risk. But, doctors are people, and they are every bit as vulnerable to substance abuse and addiction as anyone else.

In fact, research has shown that nearly 15% of doctors have drug or alcohol problems at some point during their careers. What’s even more concerning is that, each year, an estimated 100,000 healthcare providers and medical professionals practice while under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or both.

A Notable Case of Physician Impairment

There have been numerous cases of physician impairment causing injury and death to patients. One recent infamous case involved Dallas-area spinal surgeon Dr. Christopher Duntsch, who came to be known as “Doctor Death.” During Duntsch’s brief surgical career, his negligence resulted in two deaths and severe injury to 31 other patients. He eventually became the first surgeon in the United States to be sentenced to life in prison for medical malpractice.

What’s extremely disturbing is that many colleagues and staff at the hospital where he performed his surgeries knew of, or suspected his substance abuse, and didn’t report it. This was possibly due to the amount of money he brought in by performing spinal surgeries.

Who Can Be Held Liable in an Impaired Doctor Claim?

If you’ve been injured or lost a loved one due to an impaired physician, a number of parties may be held liable. First, of course, the impaired doctor can be held liable. The hospital that employed the doctor, or knowingly let them treat patients while impaired, can also be held liable. If another party was charged with doing a background check or screening of the doctor, they may be held liable. And in some cases, a colleague or supervisor of the impaired doctor may be held liable, if they knew or suspected the doctor was impaired while treating patients and did nothing about it.

Contact an Experienced Atlanta Medical Malpractice Attorney

Physicians and other medical professionals carry malpractice insurance to protect them from medical malpractice claims. So, if you were injured by a doctor, you and your family will not be dealing directly with the doctor or hospital, but with their insurance company. Insurance companies employ armies of lawyers whose sole job it is to minimize their client’s liability, and reduce the amount they have to pay you. In order to get the compensation you deserve, it is vital that you enlist the representation of an experienced attorney.

For over three decades, the Atlanta hospital negligence lawyers at Grant Law Office have been holding medical professionals, hospitals, and clinics accountable for injuring patients. For a free case evaluation, call us at (404) 995-3955.

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Posted in: Medical Malpractice

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*Wayne Grant has been practicing law since 1979. Grant Law Office was founded in 2000.