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Should Hospitals Randomly Drug Test, Alcohol Test Doctors?


Is it appropriate for health systems to conduct random drug and alcohol testing of doctors, as well as after adverse patient outcomes?

Two Johns Hopkins physicians and patient safety experts are recommending that hospitals test physicians for drug and alcohol use prior to employment, and that they institute a random drug and alcohol testing program for physicians.

The recommendations, which appear in The Journal of the American Medical Association, also include a suggestion that hospitals test doctors for drug and alcohol impairment following an adverse event, such as an unexpected patient death.

When physicians are found to be impaired, the proponents say hospitals can suspend or revoke privileges, and even report the physician to the state licensing board.

Is this a fair policy that should be implemented at hospitals, and perhaps practices? Do you think one of the recommendations is appropriate but not all of them?  Would you implement such a policy at your practice? Why or why not? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.


Facing a dilemma in practice? E-mail it to Aubrey.Westgate@ubm.com. We’ll share it without revealing your name, and we will ask other physician readers to weigh in.

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