Wednesday, December 19, 2007

California Protecting Patients

California has abolished its 27-year-old program to protect the identities of alcoholic or drug-impaired doctors. Since 1980 a doctor in a treatment program can continue to work and his/her identity is kept secret from the public. A review last summer concluded that the program failed to protect patients or help addicted doctors get better. The current program will end June 30th and unless a new program is put in place the state will probably revert to the previous zero tolerance policy.

There are an estimated 8,000 impaired doctors in this country ... do you have one? I've known some who were courageous enough to admit their problems and become champions for patient protection. The stories they tell are terrifying and only the secrecy-shrouded medical system allows it to continue.

The good news is the trend is beginning to turn as a result of the hideous mistakes by these few bad apples. Slowly there is more transparency coming into the system so patients can learn more about their doctors and protect themselves. It's long overdue.

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