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Subst Abus. 2003 Dec;24(4):233-42.

Physicians' attitudes regarding reporting alcohol-impaired drivers.

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Injury Prevention Center, Department of Emergency Medicine, Rhode Island Hospital and Miriam Hospital, Brown Medical School, Providence, Rhode Island 02903, USA.


Our objective was to examine attitudes on reporting alcohol-impaired drivers by physicians of different specialties who are most likely to treat motor vehicle crash (MVC) patients. Specific objectives included examining 1) degree of comfort with reporting to police or Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), 2) variability in attitudes across specialties surveyed, 3) perceived barriers to reporting, and 4) general attitudes on treating alcoholism. Physicians reported that they felt more comfortable with reporting to a medical review board of DMV than to police in all three of the case examples, which included treating a patient who is a clinically diagnosed alcohol-impaired MVC driver (66% DMV report, 36% police report), MVC driver at legal limit of blood alcohol concentration (63% DMV report, 32% police report), and an MVC driver with a very high blood alcohol concentration (81% DMV report, 53% police report). There was no difference between specialties in comfort with reporting, though emergency medicine physicians were less likely to screen and refer patients for counseling. The primary reasons given for not reporting an alcohol-impaired driver were physician-patient confidentiality and perceived threat of civil action by patients.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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