Washington, D.C. Medical Malpractice Lawyers Handling Claims Involving Inebriated Doctors
Tenacious representation for victims throughout the District of Columbia
There has been a worrisome number of reports in the news about healthcare professionals working while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Aside from the illegality, there are a slew of other potential problems that can and do arise when a doctor, surgeon, nurse, or staff member performs a medical procedure while intoxicated. At Paulson & Nace, PLLC, we handle claims involving doctors under the influence aggressively and efficiently. We know there is no excuse for such behavior and that their actions may have put your life or that of your family members at risk. If you were treated at a Washington, D.C. healthcare facility by an intoxicated medical professional, we want to hear your story.
Why substance abuse is a problem in D.C. hospitals
Studies show that as many as 15% of all doctors are addicted to drugs or alcohol. Being an addict does not necessarily mean that your doctor is high or drunk while attending to you, but common sense says the chances of addicts performing while under the influence is higher than those of non-addicts. Some of the reasons such high numbers of doctors are found to be under the influence may include:
- Easier access to prescription medications, which can be found in the pharmacies of hospitals or in medication carts along the hallways
- Self-prescribing, or having colleagues prescribe medications as a “professional favor”
- Difficulty in having a doctor’s license pulled by the state licensing boards
- Increased stress levels caused by long shifts and not enough sleep
- Inadequate care facilities or options for addicts
- Hospital staff refusing to disclose a potential problem for fear of being “punished” by the addict or the administration
In truth, the reasons behind a doctor’s addictions are probably very similar to the reasons behind any addictions: the inability to cope with life’s pressures in a healthy way, and the denial of a problem.
At Paulson & Nace, we believe that addiction is an illness – but we also believe that people who are sick need to seek treatment before they infect, harm, or lead to the wrongful death of others. These are incredibly complex and delicate medical malpractice cases and may take a long time to build and present. Our attorneys stay with our clients from beginning to end. Partner Barry Nace once litigated a case for 18 years, because he refused to settle for less than our client deserved. While we make every attempt to resolve our cases quickly, we do not sacrifice our clients’ best interests to reach a speedy resolution that benefits the hospital or offending practitioner.
Who could be liable if a doctor is under the influence while practicing?
Doctors and other medical professionals who perform their jobs while drugged or drunk make deadly mistakes. However, the responsibility may not always rest squarely on them when victims pursue damages for botched medical procedures at the hands of intoxicated doctors or nurses. Depending upon the circumstances we uncover after a review of your file, it may be that other individuals and entities played a role in causing your injuries.
We may be able to also seek a claim for damages against:
- Hospitals. Hospital and administrators are responsible for knowing what goes on under the roof where you receive medical care. That includes documenting, investigating, and resolving issues with missing medication a doctor may be ingesting, and staff that pose a risk to patients. If a doctor or nurse is not mentally present during even a routine exam it can result in failure to diagnose and properly treat a patient.
- State medical boards. Medical boards oversee issuing medical licenses and investigating complaints, especially when they relate to patient safety. Failing to take appropriate action after receiving complaints, leaving dangerous
- Medical staff. Other doctors, nurses, or staff who fail to uphold a duty to protect patients and report unsafe practices, such as smelling alcohol, concerning personality changes, and red flags of substance abuse or excessive drinking allowed you or your loved one to be put at risk.
- Pharmacists or staff. Those who work in the pharmacy are in charge of keeping accurate inventory records of prescription drugs. If they fail to sound the alarm when drugs are regularly missing or there is an increase in prescription orders being filled by a specific doctor without a valid explanation, they are looking the other way and failing to protect patients.
- Clinics, surgical centers and other medical practices. Hiring doctors or medical staff with prior documented complaints of alcohol or drug abuse, or vague discharges from employment without conducting a thorough background check can result in patient harm from mistakes.
We handle tough cases against careless doctors
Our trial attorneys take on cases involving intoxicated medical professionals who performed the following while under the influence of drugs or alcohol:
- Surgical procedures
- Administration of anesthesia
- Prescribing or administering medications
- Monitoring patients
- Making life-changing decisions in an emergency room
- Reviewing charts or medical histories
- Entering crucial medical information into a facility’s record keeping software
No matter what steps your doctor, surgeon, nurse, or other healthcare provider performed while under the influence, Paulson & Nace will fight on your behalf to hold them accountable for their actions.
Will D.C. hospitals settle out of court?
When there is strong evidence available to prove that you were injured or a wrongful death was suffered due to a medical professional performing his or her duties while high or drunk, medical facilities tend to understand that it is in their best interest to settle rather than proceed to trial. They will always look to protect the bottom line of their business by weighing the pros and cons of litigation against the likelihood that they will lose. Health systems know that large medical malpractice verdicts make headlines, and that in this case, all publicity is not good publicity.
You may know what happened but knowing it and proving it are two very different concepts in the legal world. Unfortunately, when patients are injured due to negligent behavior, the evidence doesn’t always paint a black and white picture of the mistakes that were made. That’s when hospitals are more likely to flip a coin and take a chance at trial. Only about 7% of medical malpractice cases go to trial and make it all the way to a verdict. That’s where it becomes crucial having an experienced legal team on your side that understands the complexity of medical malpractice litigation, and that persuading the right jury can tip the scales in your favor.
Prioritizing patients’ rights in pursuit of fair treatment in Washington, D.C.
Paulson & Nace, PLLC, is dedicated to protecting victims and their families throughout Washington, D.C. If you were treated by an intoxicated healthcare provider, our family wants to help you protect your family. Please call 202-463-1999 or fill out our contact form to discuss your case with an experienced medical malpractice attorney.