CA plan to kill addicted-doctor program sparks controversy

Starting in July 2008, California plans to end a 27-year-old program which allows addicted physicians to continue practicing as long as they get treatment. Once the program ends, the medical board will take away licenses from physicians found to have drug or alcohol addictions. 

California officials say that they're killing the program because it's not protecting patients or helping addicted physicians recover. However, the decision has outraged many physicians, as well as the AMA, which argues that without such an alternative, addicted providers are more likely to hide their illness. This could lead to far worse errors than allowing them to keep up with their practices while undergoing treatment, such proponents say.

Both in California and nationwide, there have been some well-publicized cases of physicians who harmed patients while being treated for addictions. However, supporters of confidential treatment say these cases are outliers, and that many physicians benefit from a less-punitive approach.

To learn more about this controversy:
- read this Minneapolis Star-Tribune piece (reg. req.)

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