Consumer Watchdog Calls on Senator Richard Pan to Tackle Drunk Emergency Room Physicians

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SANTA MONICA, CA: Consumer Watchdog today called upon California State Senator Richard Pan to introduce legislation addressing the ongoing problem of drug- and alcohol-abusing physicians in California emergency rooms. Pan has announced legislation that would regulate how hospitals treat intoxicated patients.

“If you truly want to protect patients from the dangers of alcohol, you should also introduce a bill that addresses drunk or drugged doctors in the emergency room,” wrote Michael Kapp of Consumer Watchdog. “Finding and removing impaired doctors from emergency rooms is at least as important as ensuring that drunk patients are not discharged prematurely.”

Read Consumer Watchdog’s letter here:

The letter continued: “Unfortunately, impaired physicians often go unnoticed or ignored, protected by a ‘white shield’ formed by their fellow doctors and a Medical Board either unwilling or unable to police them.

“For example, there’s the case of Dr. Davar Aram of Chino Hills who failed several opportunities to become sober. Dr. Aram was an emergency room physician and anesthesiologist who was convicted of two felony counts of forging prescriptions for Demerol and Dilaudid. Dr. Aram also stole leftover drugs from operating rooms and self-administered them.

“Eventually, Dr. Aram completed his criminal and Medical Board probations but his struggle to stay sober wasn’t over. Dr. Aram was arrested and convicted of a third DUI; this time his blood alcohol content was 0.24, three times the legal limit. Even still, it took two years until the Medical Board handed down a sentence: a 90-day suspension of his license and random testing. Within a few months Dr. Aram had failed several drug tests which showed the use of morphine and Demerol. Dr. Aram surrendered his medical license rather than face revocation.

“Dr. Aram is just one example of known substance-abusing physicians being allowed to practice medicine in our hospitals, emergency rooms, and operating rooms. In your zeal to protect patients, we hope you will address the estimated thousands of physicians who are currently placing patients at risk by practicing medicine with an ongoing substance abuse problem.

“Californians deserve to know that when they enter an emergency room they won’t be seen by an impaired doctor. Lives are, quite literally, at stake.”

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