State Suspends Thurston County Doctor After She Goes Off the Rails in Alcohol-Soaked Week

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Dr. Sarah Reade once crashed into a tree.
Whatever is going on with Dr. Sarah Reade, she appears to be unable to care for herself, never mind anybody else. The Thurston County doctor and surgeon, whose suspension was announced yesterday by the state Department of Health, went off the rails in a remarkable way in late December.

On Christmas Day, Reade, who specializes in internal medicine, was arrested for driving while under the influence of alcohol and subsequently spent a night in the Nisqually jail, according to DOH documents. The next day, her father called Thurston County Sheriff's deputies and told them he was concerned about his daughter's mental state. When deputies subsequently turned up at her home, they found it "cluttered and strewn with clothing, disrupted furnishings, household garbage, animal feces and bottles of liquor," the documents say. The doctor admitted she had been drinking.

The documents don't say what the deputies did next, but it didn't reverse Meade's downward trajectory. Two days later, she called 911 and warned that she was going to slit her wrists with a scalpel. When the deputies showed up, she sprayed them with a garden hose and shouted profanities at them.

Concluding that Reade was unable to practice because of her mental condition, the DOH's Medical Quality Assurance Commission noted that Reade had a history of alcohol abuse. In 2005, the commission put Reade on probation due to another DUI in which she crashed into a tree. She was required to complete an alcohol-treatment program, and was not working as a doctor at the time.

Reade could not be immediately reached for comment. But it seems she gave an interview to Tacoma's Business Examiner in which she addressed an even earlier investigation into a possible alcohol problem. A 2003 article in that paper quoted a doctor named Sarah Reade describing that investigation, in the late '90s, as "a joke" and her drinking as manageable. She said she drank after-hours only as she was going through a difficult period of her life, following the death of her mother and a nasty divorce.

According to the article, which sympathetically portrays her "ordeal," she was suspended in 1998, but sought a new evaluation and eventually got that decision reversed. (Online DOH documents do not refer to that suspension, and the Medical Quality Assurance Commission could not be reached for comment.) Twelve years later, it's apparent that Reade was and is going through an ordeal, but one for which she needs help from her onetime colleagues.

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