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Drug, alcohol addiction common among doctors

Like many other high-stress occupations, there is a high rate of drug and alcohol abuse among physicians. Unlike other jobs, however, the practice of medicine has a life-or-death element. One seemingly minor mistake caused by substance abuse can literally kill a patient.

A series of medical malpractice lawsuits against a heart surgeon - including a wrongful death claim - evidence the profound impact that drug and alcohol abuse can have upon the quality of health care a doctor provides.

Dr. Pervaiz Chaudhry has four suits pending against him, each alleging jaw-dropping behavior during surgery. The malpractice claims share a common theme: Chaudhry left his patients in the operating room, leaving unqualified assistants to do his work for him.

Surgery patients are particularly vulnerable to malpractice, as they are typically anesthetized and unaware when they are being treated without proper skill or care. In the aforementioned case, an anonymous whistleblower reported Chaudhry's unethical behavior.

In the majority of instances of surgery malpractice, a patient will only realized they have been victimized if there is some obvious error, such as a sponge being left inside a patient.

Source: ABC30.com, "Fourth Lawsuit Filed Against Fresno Heart Surgeon," Aug. 15, 2014

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