Intermountain Healthcare is the largest healthcare provider in the intermountain west and well known throughout Utah. They have 22 hospitals and over 185 clinics. They have 1,500 multi-specialty doctors and caregivers and a total of 37,000 employees as of 2015. The University of Utah Health is the Mountain West’s only academic health care system and provides care to ten percent of the continental U.S. They have more than 1,000 board-certified physicians who staff four university hospitals, 12 community clinics, and several specialty clinics. They also have about 8,000 staff members according to their 2011 report to the community. It is no secret that our health care providers have an easy access to prescription substances and have been and continue to abuse them. There have even been shows about fictional doctors and nurses abusing drugs while still working with their patients such as House M.D. from 2004-2012 and Nurse Jackie from 2009-2015, but the problem is very real.
Addiction Issues Specific to Healthcare Professionals & Providers
For physicians and other medical field employees, they have a virtually endless supply of prescription drugs. Patients bring in their unused prescriptions to be disposed, drug companies leave free samples, colleagues will write prescriptions as a favor, and of course doctors have their own prescription pad that they can fill out. For doctors, nurses, and other employees, they work long hours and go long periods without sleep with the requirement to save lives and perform their job impeccably. With the burden of holding multiple lives in your own hands they may feel extremely stressed, they may become depressed after losing a patient, and experience anxiety before a complicated surgery. So why not prescribe something to relieve the anxiety, the depression, to feel more alert, or dull the stress? Especially when it is so easily accessible.
Studies show that between ten and fourteen percent of healthcare professionals abuse drugs, but are more likely than their patients to abuse prescription drugs. According to a study published in 1999 in the Journal of Addictive Diseases found that different doctors abused different drugs. It stated that Surgeons used drugs the least, emergency doctors used illicit drugs the most, psychiatrists used the most benzodiazepines, anesthesiologists had high rates of opioid use, and pediatricians had low rates of drug use. In 2012, a study of American surgeons published in JAMA Surgery stated that 15.4 percent abused alcohol, with females (25.6 percent) being more likely than males (13.9 percent) to show signs of alcoholism. Surgeons who reported making a major medical mistake in the last three months were more likely to have an alcohol use disorder. Those who also reported feeling depressed or burned out also were more likely to have an alcohol use disorder.
There have been many stories across the country of healthcare professionals abusing substances while at work and in their leisure time. There have even been stories of people using the same needles on themselves as on patients, including one technician who infected dozens of patients with hepatitis C. Doing this means that the patient who needs the medicine isn’t getting their full dose and dealing with pain and discomfort and even serious problems. However, because of these stories hospitals and clinics are trying to be more careful of their distribution of substances and conducting regular random drug testing for employees. According to a 5 year study of 904 physicians in 16 states showed that the most abused substance was alcohol. Since alcohol is legal a drug test doesn’t really work for these individuals. Hospitals encourage their employees to bring any suspicious or frightening behavior of colleagues to the administration’s attention so that they can look into it.
Addiction Treatment for Doctors & Nurses in Utah.
Hospitals and clinics are places we all go to makes sure we are healthy and taken care of and administration wants to keep it that way. Not all doctors abuse substances and they certainly don’t do it intentionally to hurt patients. It is a way for them to self medicate and they believe they are making themselves more efficient. It can be scary for these individuals to step forward and ask for help but they do have help available to them without affecting their careers. It is better to address the developing abuse sooner rather than later before something drastic happens to yourself or a patient. Getting the help you need is just one phone call away. If you’re ready to make that call, Recovery Ways the premier drug rehab in Utah, can help. Our admissions coordinators will help review your benefits and assist you in finding the proper level of care. Please call 1-888-986-7848 or contact us here.