Drunk Doctor Who Passed Out at Work to Continue Treating Patients | NBC 7 San Diego

Drunk Doctor Who Passed Out at Work to Continue Treating Patients

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    A local doctor who drank so much he passed out at his medical office will be allowed to treat patients again. NBC 7 Investigates reporter Mari Payton explains how the state Medical Board is keeping tabs on this doctor and trying to protect his patients. (Published Friday, Jan. 16, 2015)

    A local doctor who drank so much that he passed out at his medical office, will now be allowed to treat patients again.

    Dr. Jason Lane collapsed while working with the Kaiser Zion Medical Group in October 2013, according to a formal accusation filed by the Medical Board of California.

    Lane's blood alcohol level was .39, which is almost five times the legal limit, and his colleagues in the emergency room had to treat him for alcohol poisoning, as revealed in the Medical Board’s accusation.

    Those documents, obtained by NBC 7 Investigates, also reveal that Dr. Lane drank more than two bottles of wine, the night before he collapsed at work.

    Questioned by investigators after that incident, Lane admitted to "binge drinking" in college, and, more recently, drinking more than a bottle of wine every night to help him sleep.

    Lane told investigators his alcohol problem worsened when he returned from military service in Afghanistan and diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

    But NBC 7 Investigates has now learned that state regulators are giving Lane a second chance with his medical career.

    Effective January 15, Lane will be on probation for 10 years, with a long list of restrictions designed to both prevent him from relapsing and protect his patients.

    For example, Lane must submit to random testing for drug and alcohol use for the next decade, submit to psychiatric and medical examinations, and meet regularly with a mental health counselor.

    The doctor also agreed to participate in a "Twelve Step" alcohol abstinence program, with a sponsor, for the entire 10 years of his probation.

    Another doctor will supervise Lane's care of patients, and Lane will not be allowed to supervise physician assistants.

    Julie D’Angelo Fellmeth, a professor of public interest law at the University of San Diego and an expert in state regulatory boards, told NBC 7 Investigates that drug and alcohol-addicted doctors pose a significant threat to their patients’ safety.

    Fellmeth said she is generally satisfied with the Medical Board’s handling of the Lane case, but cautioned that alcoholics have a very high rate of relapse.

    While acknowledging that she is not an expert in addiction treatment, Fellmeth told NBC 7 Investigates: “If I were the Medical Board, I might have added an additional term of probation and that is that he be subject to 'SoberLink" breathalyzer testing. It's immediate, real-time testing, when he's going to be treating patients. And if he has been ingesting any alcohol, somebody will get a real time notice and stop him from practicing."

    She also suggested that Lane’s patients should read the accusation against him, and the settlement and discipline, and decide for themselves if they feel comfortable with him as their doctor.

    NBC 7 Investigates could not reach Dr. Lane or his attorneys for comment.

    But in those Medical Board documents, Doctor Lane insisted he never drank while at work.

    Those documents also reveal that the Kaiser Medical Group fired Lane four days after he passed out on the job.