Judge suspends license of San Diego physician who admitted to drinking 16 ounces of vodka before patient visits

A state judge suspended the medical license of Marco Chavez, MD, May 7 after the psychiatrist admitted to drinking 16 ounces of vodka before 8 a.m. prior to seeing patients, according to NBC Bay Area.

In her May 7 ruling, the judge stated Dr. Chavez admitted to having a drinking problem during a May 3 hearing, and said he drank two eight-ounce glasses of vodka mixed with cloves at 6 a.m. and 7 a.m. as a "home remedy" suggested by his mother, according to the report. He said his mother had hoped the concoction would help mitigate Dr. Chavez's drinking problem.

The judge's factual findings of the case indicate the Medical Board of California initiated its investigation into Dr. Chavez in February 2017 after receiving a complaint from a patient alleging Dr. Chavez mailed her a sample box of medication that also contained an empty vodka bottle.

A medical board investigator visited Dr. Chavez in his practice three times during a three-month period between January and April of this year. During the April 18 visit, the investigator noted he "observed signs and symptoms that caused him to suspect [Dr. Chavez] was intoxicated."

According to court documents, Dr. Chavez told the medical investigator during the April 18 visit he had not had a drink since Feb. 24 and denied he had an alcohol addiction. However, later during the same visit, Dr. Chavez admitted his mother gave him a "Mexican home remedy" comprising two eight-ounce glasses of vodka mixed with cloves, which he had imbibed that morning.

Following the investigator's visit, police arrived at Dr. Chavez's office to administer a blood alcohol test and discovered the psychiatrist had a blood alcohol content of .216, almost three times the legal limit of .08.

Dr. Chavez admitted during the May 3 hearing he regularly drank in excess with his friends on Sundays, which he referred to as "Sunday Funday," and said he would knowingly not schedule patients on Mondays. He said he was in the office April 18 — a Monday, according to Dr. Chavez — to care for a patient, but had not been planning to work that day. However, officials noted April 18 was a Wednesday.

The judge ruled May 7 Dr. Chavez's testimony "was not persuasive evidence of rehabilitation" and suspended his license, effective the same day.

To access the judge's ruling, click here.

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