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Medical professionals and drug addiction, part 2: random testing?

In the first part of this post, we began discussing the issue of medical professionals with addiction problems that put patient safety at risk.

As we noted, outright contamination of medications intended for patients is one thing. But there is also the problem of impaired performance by doctors and nurses who are compromised by chemical addictions.

So what role could drug tests play in protecting patients from medical errors caused by such addictions? In this part of the post, we will discuss that question.

Actually, there are other steps besides drug tests that hospitals could also be taking. They could, for example, improve surveillance in areas of the hospital where drugs are stored. This would make it more difficult for medical professionals to get unauthorized access to medications.

What about drug testing? To be sure, it would be a major commitment to test all medical professionals for drug addiction. But a more modest proposal would be to focus the tests on the workers who have access to the hospital’s supply of drugs.

In part one of this post, we noted that random drug testing is already commonly used in major professional team sports. But it isn’t only in that context that drug testing is used. It is also widely employed in the transportation industry.

School bus drivers, pilots, truck drivers and other transportation workers are required to submit to drug tests as part of their jobs. It would be reasonable to require health care professionals to do so as well.

Source: The New York Times, "Why Aren't Doctors Drug Tested?" Daniel R. Levinson and Erika T. Broadhurst, March 12, 2014

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