A pair of commentaries in the Annals of Internal Medicine comes out strongly against California’s ballot measure, Proposition 46, which, among other things, would mandate hospitals to test physicians for drugs and alcohol.
The problems laid out by the authors include:
• the potential for false-positive test results;
• positive results leading to immediate suspension of a physician’s license, with no timetable specified for an investigation and hearing;
• a punitive approach — test results may be available for civil or criminal litigation, which may make impaired physicians try to avoid detection for as long as possible.
The authors agree that something does need to be done about physician impairment, with one article suggesting that drug testing be modeled after programs that have been shown to be effective.
California voters will decide the initiative’s fate in November.