BALTIMORE (WJZ) — There are dramatic new recommendations for physicians calling for random drug tests across the board. Johns Hopkins Hospital is behind the nationwide push for stricter regulations.
Kai Jackson explains without them, patients could be in danger.
The idea of uniformly testing medical professionals for substances isn’t new, yet this new study may help it gain some steam.
The relationship between doctors and their patients is considered sacred.
“As a consumer, I would want somebody to look out for my best interest,” said ER nurse Cathy Carroll.
Critics say that relationship is compromised if a patient is trusting a physician with a substance abuse problem.
“There’s no standardized or recommended drug or alcohol testing for physicians,” said Dr. Julius Pham.
Two Johns Hopkins University doctors are trying to improve the medical experience for patients. They believe doctors should be tested for drugs and alcohol even after pre-employment testing in the same way cops, firefighters and people in other critical jobs are tested.
Researchers say substance abuse among medical professionals is a problem. Their findings were recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Dr. Julius Pham is one of the authors.
“Physicians have a similar prevalence of alcohol and drug dependence as in the general population, which is anywhere from five to 15 percent,” he said.
Experts say having drug treatment programs for those in the medical profession is just part of the equation. The other important component, they say, is random drug testing. The study recommends mandatory drug testing when hired, random tests after that and routine tests after a patient dies.
“The most important thing is, it’s going to protect the public,” said drug expert Mike Gimbel.
The authors of the study would like to see a national standard to screen physicians for substance abuse.