Impaired Medical Professionals Endanger Patients’ Lives

West Virginia family of medical malpractice attorneys advocates for patients injured by doctors practicing while under the influence of drugs or alcohol

According to a paper by the Mayo Clinic, approximately 10% to 12% of physicians will develop a substance use disorder during their careers, a rate similar to or exceeding that of the general population. Whatever the reasons that may drive substance abuse, however, we put our lives in medical professionals’ hands. There is no excuse for working while impaired by alcohol or drugs.

Paulson & Nace, PLLC is a family-owned and managed firm of West Virginia medical malpractice lawyers. Our team is dedicated to holding West Virginia’s medical community to reasonable standards of care. We are well known and highly regarded throughout the state for trying medical professionals whose drug- or alcohol- impaired state harmed their patients.

Why some doctors are substance abusers

There is no doubt that practicing medicine can be very stressful. Society may hold medical professionals in awe, but the fact is that they often have many of the same personal, marital, and other stresses anyone could experience. And, they may respond to them in the same way as many lay people: they have a drink or take a pill “to take the edge off.” However, there is an additional factor that puts medical professionals at greater risk of substance abuse than the general population: the easy availability of controlled substances in their workplaces.

Investigating circumstances and determining fault

Medical professionals need to operate at full mental awareness in order to take a complete oral history, conduct a full physical examination, order the correct medical tests, make the right diagnosis, and order the proper treatment. An alcohol- or drug-impaired doctor or nurse is unlikely to adhere to acceptable standards of care, or to give the patient the attention he or she deserves. Medical procedures such as surgeries require that the surgeon be able to think and act with complete clarity and dexterity.

When our West Virginia medical negligence lawyers examine a case of malpractice by an impaired medical professional, we investigate whether:

  • Impaired judgment caused the professional to make an incorrect diagnosis.
  • Important symptoms were missed or ignored.
  • Impaired motor skills contributed to a negative outcome of any procedure, including surgery.
  • A medical professional’s impaired state caused him or her to write an incorrect prescription.
  • An important treatment detail was overlooked at any stage.

While an impaired health care professional can be held accountable, so can a hospital if that person is one of their employees. Doctors are not normally employees of the hospitals at which they practice, but the extent of the hospital’s control over a doctor may result in the inference of his or her employment. A hospital may also be held accountable if, despite prior knowledge of a doctor or surgeon’s impairment, it allowed him or her to treat a patient, perform surgery, or administer anesthesia. Under such circumstances, a hospital may be found liable even when the impaired professional was not a hospital employee.

There can be no excuse whatever for a healthcare professional to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs while at work. If you or a loved one was harmed because an alcohol- or drug-impaired medical professional misdiagnosed an illness, breached a standard of care during treatment, or ordered incorrect medication, seek qualified legal representation as soon as possible.

Attorneys holding impaired West Virginia doctors accountable for their acts of medical negligence

Paulson & Nace, PLLC’s distinguished family of medical malpractice attorneys offers the compassionate, personal, and professional attention you deserve.  We are widely recognized throughout West Virginia for both our comprehensive legal services and our aggressive advocacy for patients victimized by impaired healthcare practitioners. When you choose a qualified medical malpractice lawyer from our practice to represent you, you are choosing a team that values families and family relationships. Please call 304-741-8079 or fill out our contact form to tell us your story in a no-obligation consultation. Our office is located at 3501 Maccorkle Ave SE, Charleston, WV 25304.

We have dedicated our lives to helping medical malpractice victims and their families. Now, let our family help you and yours.

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