The State Auditor found the program – known as physician diversion – hasn’t always required doctors to immediately stop practicing medicine after testing positive for alcohol or drugs. Julie D’Angelo Fellmeth with the Center of Public Interest Law at UC San Diego testified at a recent Capitol hearing. She says the program is rife with problems – including lack of oversight:
“Patients cannot protect themselves from substance-abusing physicians who are in this program, because patients do not know who they are.”
The program is run by the Medical Board, and set to expire next year. Democratic Senator Mark Ridley-Thomas has written a bill that would extend that – but he says there’d have to be more oversight before that can happen. Those who run the program say their policy requires physicians who have a positive drug test to stop practicing right away.