The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

April 25, 2014

Hospitals vary approach to addiction's risk

OTTUMWA — After decades of focusing on illegal drugs, there is a growing awareness of the risks of prescription drug abuse.

The issue is in the headlines in Iowa, where Dr. Daniel Baldi is on trial. Baldi is accused of over-prescribing painkillers, causing the deaths of nine patients. He is charged with involuntary manslaughter.

In Baldi's case, it's his patients who were receiving the drugs. But the doctors and medical staff can also find themselves gripped by addiction.

A recent report in USA Today estimated 100,000 doctors, nurses and other health care employees are addicted to prescription medications in any given year, potentially raising unnecessary risks for their patients.

But while the attention given to the issue is new, the problem itself is not.

“In the health care industry, I think diversion has always been an issue,” said Phil Noel, CEO of Ottumwa Regional Health Center, “so it’s not a new issue. I think hospitals across the country have always been concerned and aware that that exists.”

In Iowa, different boards handle discipline for different health care providers. The Iowa Board of Medicine’s 2013 records show nine doctors involved in disciplinary cases for substance or alcohol abuse. Not all of those cases began in 2013 and several were reinstatement actions for doctors who successfully completed treatment.

The Iowa Board of Nursing report covers Fiscal 2013 rather than the calendar year. It shows a total of 19 enforcement actions for substance abuse. That compares to 22 in Fiscal 2012, and 25 such cases in Fiscal 2011.

In Iowa, medical personnel have options to seek help. The Iowa Physician Health Program exists so doctors can seek assistance with anything from alcoholism to narcotic addiction.

The numbers in that program have stayed stable in recent years. There were 82 participants in 2010, 80 in 2011 and 79 in 2012. Numbers from last year have yet to be released.

Text Only
Local News
  • 0731 OTT Aviation plane -T -M Flying free OTTUMWA — The financial obstacle may have been removed if your career goal starts with learning to fly. "We have it set up for three terms, about nine months," said pilot and chief flight instructor Darren Graham at Indian Hills Community College. "

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Supervisors discuss pipeline potential KEOSAUQUA — Van Buren County Supervisors received preliminary, general information on a new pipeline being proposed to carry oil from North Dakota through Iowa, including Van Buren County, then crossing into Illinois. The proposed Bakken Pipeline wou

    July 30, 2014

  • Fairfield stabbing suspects' trials separated FAIRFIELD — The three people accused of dragging a man into a Fairfield apartment before robbing and stabbing him have had a judge grant their requests to separate their trials. Dawn Dunn, Dustin Roll and Brett Hedblade are each charged with willful

    July 30, 2014

  • Local business donates grain rescue tube KEOSAUQUA — Stockport Elevator, owned by Roquette America, donated a grain rescue tube to Birmingham and Stockport Fire Departments. A training session was conducted Monday, led by Dale Ekdahl, a representative of Outstate Data, LLC, the device’s man

    July 30, 2014

  • Where do my taxes go? OTTUMWA — Wapello County Board certified its tax levy. But what does that mean? Based on budgets submitted by various levying authors, the Wapello County Auditor prepares and certifies the levy rates for the county. Budgets for each levy are based on

    July 30, 2014

  • OCSD releases elementary supplies list

    OTTUMWA — For years, parents of the students in Ottumwa's elementary schools have had to check to make sure the school supplies list they grabbed was the right one for their school. No more.

    July 30, 2014

  • Reducing runoff at the local level AGENCY — Pollution isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you look out at a field of Iowa corn or soybeans, but there’s growing concern about what manages to get out of the fields and into the water. The same nutrients that benefit the crops c

    July 30, 2014

  • Supervisors wrestle with staffing woes KEOSAUQUA — Van Buren County Supervisor Chairman Bob Waugh says he wants county supervisors to help alleviate staffing problems within the county treasurer’s office. In May, supervisors opted not to replace a vacancy within the treasurer’s office. Va

    July 30, 2014

  • 0730 OTT Better Buildings -T -M Wildwood could be your home OTTUMWA — There was always one child per class who just adored school. If they went to Wildwood, they may soon be able to move in permanently. The Ottumwa board of education met Monday, where staff told them where the district stood as far as "facili

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • A changing roster -- for school board OTTUMWA — If the last time you saw your board of education was before Christmastime, the current school board might surprise you. Two members retired from the board: longtime educator Ron Oswalt stepped down, as did board president Carol Mitchell. Bo

    July 29, 2014

Photo reprints