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Joseph
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Category: California Employment Law
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Experience:  Extensive experience representing employees and management
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Has a Substance Abuse Professional ever been sued for malpractice?

Customer Question

Has a Substance Abuse Professional ever been sued for malpractice? If I wanted to file a malpractice claim against an SAP who said I was a substance abuser when I say I was not a substance abuser, how would I go about it?
Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: California Employment Law
Expert:  Joseph replied 11 months ago.
I'm not sure if it's ever been done before (I can't find any cases where it's happened, but that doesn't mean no one's ever sued), and it's difficult to say if you'd even have standing to do it (as I mentioned before, since you don't really have a doctor-patient relationship).

It's also difficult here to prove what was malpractice. Since Substance Abuse Professionals are trained to spot addiction, when they're presented with someone who is on a drug, they are probably going to think 'addict.' It would be hard to find another medical expert to testify against her saying that it was malpractice to state that you were an addict. (As there are people with valid prescriptions, including opiates, who definitely fall into the addict category).

Finally, there's an issue of damages. You are working now, and you weren't wrongfully sent to the six month rehab because of the SAP's wrongful recommendation, so it seems unlikely that you'd have sufficient enough damages to get a malpractice attorney to work on your case on a contingency basis (which is what you want, since you don't want to pay hourly fees and risk no recovery).

All that said, there's no harm in talking to local attorneys to see if one would take such a case on as a contingency basis. You can do so using the information available online here:

www.lawyers.com

www.avvo.com

www.martindale.com

Joseph, Lawyer
Satisfied Customers: 4871
Experience: Extensive experience representing employees and management
Joseph and other California Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 10 months ago.

I have major damage I would like to recover and the SAP did a really bad investigation to say the least. Her investigation took just about an hour consisting of an interview with me at a restaurant and me filling out her standard questionnaires where I answered every question indicating I did not have a problem. To add evidence that I took the pain meds associated with major medical conditions requiring surgery I submitted pharmacy records to back it up. The SAP's absurd reasoning was that my records indicated I was "shopping for drug doctors." Why would I have such painful surgeries just to get vicodin? Why would it be so easy to fool workers comp? I don't think so. The SAP's main clincher that I was abusing was that I filled prescriptions once at two different pharmacies. My insurance company through my employer kept track of the amount of pain meds allowing only a certain allotment each month. There was no getting more than what was allowed so little chance for abuse. The workers comp doctor would not prescribe more than needed for the condition. When I asked the SAP if she had an advisor to get another opinion to validate her seemingly irrational conclusions she gave me the name of such a mentor SAP. I called this SAP, who worked for SANDIA LABS or some place in Livermore CA. I asked if 6 months residential inpatient was a typical recommendation for a one-time morphine pain med user and se said my SAP was just "erring on the side of caution." In my experience, the word "error" is not the right word to apply to medical or legal cases, but in this case I believe helps my malpractice argument.


Whatever, I know I never abused the pain meds and believe it is up to the SAP to make a convincing case beyond a reasonable doubt and not "err on the side of caution." I will not abide by being dubbed a substance abuser at any time during my life of mostly avoiding drugs, alcohol, and tobacco. Thus I will take this case to the end to clear my good name and reputation.

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