Can I Practice Medicine with a Substance Abuse Issue?

Even though you may be a celebrated physician who saves patients’ lives every day, you are still human. That is, you may be struggling with very real internal battles behind closed doors, such as a drug addiction or alcoholism condition. At Walker Medical Law, we are not here to judge you. Rather, we are here to advise you on whether it is safe to continue with your practice of medicine, along with what steps you can take towards recovery and a healthy life. Continue reading to learn whether it is acceptable to practice medicine while struggling with substance abuse and how one of the experienced New York physician defense lawyers at Walker Medical Law can help you lead with the best version of yourself.

How can my drug addiction or alcoholism condition affect my profession?

It is an unfortunate statistic by the American Addiction Centers that approximately 10 to 15 percent of United States physicians and nurses suffer from a drug addiction or alcoholism condition. The correlation may be that physicians and nurses carry out rather high-stress and emotionally draining professions. What’s more, in the instance of drug addictions, physicians and nurses may have easy access to serious drugs, such as Fentanyl and Oxycodone.

This is all to say that a substance abuse issue may affect your ability to carry out your profession while meeting the standard of care established by the medical community. This is because a substance abuse issue may result in frequent absences or tardiness, diminished mental acuity, increased accident and injury rates, and more.

Is it acceptable to practice medicine with a substance abuse issue?

Nonetheless, it is strongly encouraged that you take a step away from your practice of medicine upon accepting the fact that you have a substance abuse issue. In fact, the Federation of State Medical Boards mandates that physicians should abstain from substance abuse at the time of seeing patients. This may mean that you have to admit yourself to a rehabilitative center, attend addiction support group meetings, and otherwise take the proper steps toward sobriety.

Importantly, you must handle your substance abuse issue before it becomes the concern of your patients, colleagues, and employer. That is, you may not want to cause your patients any further pain and suffering by practicing while intoxicated. In addition, you may not want your colleagues to report you to your employer out of concern. Lastly, you may not want your employer to run an internal investigation against you, or worse get the New York State Department of Health’s Office of Professional Medical Conduct (OPMC) involved. All in all, you may not want the OPMC to permanently revoke your right to practice medicine due to your unresolved substance abuse issue.

When dealing with an urgent matter like this one, you must drop everything and call one of the skilled New York physician defense lawyers. Our team at Walker Medical Law can help you pick up the pieces.