Impaired Physicians: What Should Patients Know?

What should patients know about the degree to which their physicians may be impaired—unable, in the words of the American Medical Association , “to practice medicine with reasonable skill and safety to patients by reason of physical or mental illness, including alcoholism and drug dependence”? What patients do in fact find out about such matters as alcohol or other drug abuse by, say, the surgeon or the anesthesiologist in charge of their care is another matter altogether; most patients learn about such impairment the hard way. But what should they know beforehand, if at all possible?
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DOI 10.1017/S0963180100004345
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