A call is being made for random drug testing for doctors at all medical institutions after the tragic deaths of two young doctors who allegedly used drugs.
NGO Rebuild_TT wants Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh to institute this measure immediately because of reports of five doctors being involved in narcotic use for the year so far.
The association’s president Gregory Lal-Beharie said doctors make life-and-death decisions every day when it comes to patients. He is concerned for patients whose lives may be in the hands of medical personnel who may be under the influence of narcotics.
Drug use among medical professionals came to the fore with the death of two doctors in separate incidents earlier this year.
In January, Dr Rudradeva Sharma was reportedly abducted and killed when the vehicle in which he was kidnapped crashed.
Police reports said Sharma and his colleague Dr Prem Naidoo were parked at Rushworth Street Extension, San Fernando shortly after midnight, when they were held up.
Police said the doctors went there to smoke drugs they had bought at Pleasantville. The two were working at the San Fernando General Hospital.
On May 3, Dr Jeron Kanhai,who also worked at the SFGH, was socialising with colleagues at a Champ Fleurs apartment when he reportedly fell to his death from the third floor of the building.
His colleagues reportedly told police he was using a cocktail of LSD (a hallucinatory drug), marijuana and alcohol. They said Kanhai’s behaviour became erratic and he ran to the balcony and jumped off.
In a release, Lal-Beharie said discussions with senior police officers and senior doctors indicate medical professionals' use of narcotics appears to begin at university.
He said more experienced doctors admitted that drug use is more prevalent among young doctors and that it is escalating.
Based on this information he said UWI should subject medical students to drug testing. Where necessary, he said, counselling should be provided and subsequent expulsion if all else fails.
Lal-Beharie also urged parents of such students to be alert to behaviour changes which may be consistent with drug usage.