What if your doctor smoked marijuana and then performed surgery on you?
Not a comforting thought, but it could happen.
That is why two Johns Hopkins doctors and patient safety experts say hospitals should make alcohol and drug tests mandatory for physicians.
The doctors shared their views in a commentary published online April 29 in The Journal of the American Medical Association.
They say doctors also should be tested if a patient dies suddenly or is unexpectedly injured during surgery.
“Patients might be better protected from preventable harm. Physicians and employers may experience reduced absenteeism, unintentional adverse events, injuries, and turnover, and early identification of a debilitating problem,” wrote the authors of the study: Julius Cuong Pham, an emergency medicine physician at The Johns Hopkins Hospital, and Peter J. Pronovost, director of the Johns Hopkins Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality. Gregory E. Skipper of the drug and alcohol treatment center Promises in Santa Monica, Calif., also contributed.
If a doctor is found to be impaired, the hospital could suspend or revoke his or her medical license and report the incident to the state licensing board, the authors wrote. This would help protect patients, the doctors said.