Physician Groups Mull Options for Doctors Who Abuse Drugs, Alcohol
On Thursday, the Medical Board of California held a public meeting to consider alternatives to a diversion program for physicians with substance abuse problems, the AP/San Diego Union-Tribune reports.
The board voted last summer to eliminate the drug and alcohol diversion program in June. The decision followed several state audits in recent years that uncovered deficiencies in the program (Wohlsen, AP/San Diego Union-Tribune, 1/25).
One such audit last year faulted the program for inconsistently monitoring participants, finding that more than one in four drug tests was not performed as randomly scheduled (Lin II, Los Angeles Times, 1/25).
The audit also found that the program does not always require physicians to immediately stop practicing after testing positive for drugs or alcohol.
Physicians who enter the program can retain their license if they complete a five-year course (California Healthline, 8/6/07).
Several state physicians' groups are backing a joint proposal to create a similar confidential program that would be operated by an independent not-for-profit group. Most states have a confidential program for doctors, and most are run by independent not-for-profits or state physicians' groups, according to the AP/Union-Tribune.
Renee Threadgill, head of enforcement for the medical board, said that unless legislation creates a new program, doctors who are reported to the board for drug and alcohol violations will face discipline more quickly (AP/San Diego Union-Tribune, 1/25).