ARCTIC HEALTH SERIES – Substance Abuse Increasing Among Finland Health Professionals

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Photo: YLE Substance abuse problems are on the increase among health care professionals. The National Supervisory Authority for Health and Welfare (Valvira) receives hundreds of notifications relating to substance abuse problems annually. Around 60 nurses or doctors are struck off annually due to alcohol or substance abuse.

The incidence of alcoholism and the abuse of tranquilizers is increasing year by year. Valvira notes that health care professionals also succumb to temptation.

“Around one hundred notifications of drinking on the job or taking illegal substances are received annually,” says Valvira attorney Heidi Laurila. She says the number of reported incidences is increasing.

Doctors can also prescribe tranquilizers also for themselves. Nurses, too, have easy access.

“When a physician writes a prescription for an untenable amount of tranquilizers, often it indicates that the doctor also has a substance abuse problem. The more severe the offence, the tougher the penalty,” Laurila comments.

“If determined that a physician’s own health prevents him or her from performing professional duties, a license to practice can be withdrawn,” Laurila reminds.

Around ten physicians and 50 nurses have their licenses to practice revoked annually.

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