Lessons learned while tracking an anesthesiologist’s drug abuse and diversion case

Cheryl Clark

About Cheryl Clark

Cheryl Clark (@CherClarHealth) is AHCJ's core topic leader for patient safety, a MedPage Today contributor and inewsource.org investigative journalist. For most of 27 years, she covered medicine and science for the San Diego Union-Tribune. After taking a buyout in 2008, she became senior quality editor for HealthLeaders Media.

Bradley Glenn Hay gave a deposition in November 2019.

Photo: Still from deposition video provided by plaintiff’s attorney Eugene Iredale.Bradley Glenn Hay gave a deposition in November 2019.

This is any hospital’s or medical group practice’s — and thus any affected patient’s — worst nightmare.  A long-time trusted and well-liked doctor at a large academic medical center in Southern California had been stealing sedatives from his health care system and from patients for years, injecting them into himself, and was doing it off and on, largely undetected, for 14 years.

The story of Bradley Glenn Hay, who surrendered his license to practice to the Medical Board of California in 2018, is almost unbelievable.  But physicians have confided to me that they are aware this issue happens more frequently than anyone would care to admit.

While waiting for his lunch to arrive at a nearby restaurant on Tuesday, one physician mentioned how reluctant his colleagues are to report any strange behaviors among their co-workers.

“Nobody wants to be the one to blow the whistle,” he said.

As he explained in his 4.5 hour deposition, Hay managed to hide his addiction from University of California San Diego co-workers, pharmacy officials, and wellness committee members in several ways, until he made a mistake and overdosed, falling unconscious on the UCSD bathroom floor.  That was the end of his career. I explain the grisly details in this How I Did It piece for AHCJ.

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