By John Dickerson
In March, New Times reported that the Arizona Medical Board looks the other way once doctors graduate from its addiction recovery program. The board doesn’t even track how many doctors relapse once their drug testing ends (about three out of four docs New Times followed did relapse).
But one thing the board should be credited for doing is monitoring the doctors who are still in the addiction-recovery program, known as the “monitored aftercare program,” or MAP.
Today, the board learned that one MAP physician, Tempe ER doc Edwin D. Stump, failed his most-recent drug test when his urine tested positive for alcohol. Board staff tried to contact Stump, but the doctor was either out of town or out cold.
So the board immediately suspended Dr. Stump’s license today. Stump is just one example of a functioning addict whose patients (unless they smell alcohol on his breath) have no way of knowing whether their ER doctor is an alcoholic — even though the medical board knows.
Even if a patient were to log on to the Arizona Medical Board’s Web site and had the wherewithal to pull Stump’s profile, said responsible patient wouldn’t see that Stump is an alchie. In fact, his profile reports a perfect score of zero board [disciplinary] actions.
How could it be that the board knew he was an alcoholic and didn't warn his patients? That’s because Arizona (and a number of other states) offers confidential rehab for doctors who self-report their addictions. Confidential, as in the medical board has known this guy had an alcohol problem since July 3. (Unlike Stump, most doctors last longer than a month in the MAP program.)
All hope is not lost for Dr. Stump and his estimated $20,000 per month salary. If he calls the board and vows to get back on the right track, it’ll likely give him another chance. His license is only suspended after all, not entirely revoked.
Like all doctors in Arizona, Stump will have to prove that he’s clean for five straight years of drug tests. Then, he can graduate from the program — never to be drug-tested again. At that point (if he makes it there), he’s free to relapse while working the ER — without the medical board or his patients knowing.
Unless, of course, one of the patients dies, like this one.