Poll: Test Physicians for Drug and Alcohol Use?

May 9, 2013

Hospitals should randomly test physicians for drug and alcohol use, according to a recent JAMA commentary. What do you think?

Hospitals should randomly test physicians for drug and alcohol use. That’s the position of a recent commentary in the Journal of the American Medical Association written by two Johns Hopkins physicians and patient safety experts.

Physicians should also be tested right after an unexpected death or significant event, they argued. Major industries like airlines and railways do so, and it would improve patient safety.

“Physicians and employers may experience reduced absenteeism, unintentional adverse events, injuries, and turnover, and early identification of a debilitating problem,” wrote Julius Cuong Pham, MD, PhD, an emergency medicine physician at The Johns Hopkins Hospital, and Peter J. Pronovost, MD, PhD, director of the Johns Hopkins Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality.

The two recommended mandatory testing before a medical staff appointment at a hospital, random drug and alcohol testing, and routine testing for all physicians involved in a sentinel event leading to a patient death.

Do you agree?