A senior anesthesiologist at Petah Tikva’s Schneider Children’s Medical Center of Israel was placed on sick leave and prohibited from seeing patients or dispensing medication until further notice after it was found that she was addicted to anesthetics.
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The case was reported to the Health Ministry, which has launched an investigation.
Schneider says no professional misconduct was ascribed to the doctor at any point in her employment at the hospital.
According to figures with knowledge of the case who spoke on the condition of anonymity, the doctor’s alleged addiction was first discovered a few months ago, when she arrived late for a shift. When she was asked about it, she admitted to being addicted to anesthetic drug and requested help in quitting.
The physician apparently became addicted to Midazolam, which is widely used as an anesthetic as well as to reduce anxiety. It also impedes the ability to form new memories. The hospital decided to assist the doctor, who is a long-time employee, as well as to put her on sick leave.
According to hospital officials, Schneider initially decided not to report the case to the Health Ministry because the medication involved is not required to be reported automatically. However the hospital found that a number of bottles of the powerful pain medication Fentanyl, which are normally kept in a locked cabinet, were missing. Sources said the anesthesiologist denied using or having anything to do with the disappearance of the Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid.
Nevertheless, about a month ago the hospital decided to report the matter to the ministry.
The hospital and the ministry consider the doctor’s case to be one of personal distress and illness rather than malpractice or ethical misconduct. The doctor is expected to appear soon before a committee that will assess her professional capabilities and decide whether she can go back to work and under what conditions.