Stanford Doctor Crash Shows Holes In Medical Screening

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Neurosurgeon Doyle Borchers' night flight from Palo Alto to Reno on Aug. 7, 2008, in a Cessna 172S was not authorized by his student pilot certificate and through investigation of his fatal crash that night the FAA and NTSB have found his body contained traces of a wide variety of drugs. The NTSB has not yet released a final report, but a recent update shows the doctor, 41, was influenced by Prozac, mood stabilizers, opiates, anti-psychotic drugs and cocaine. The drug mix in Borchers' system also included buprenorphine, which Borchers prescribed to his own patients who suffered from heroin addiction, according to the doctor's Web site profile. Review of the pilot's FAA medical records show he indicated "no" in December, 2007, in response to "do you currently use any medication" and similarly to "mental disorders of any sort" and "substance dependence." Borcher was on April 22, 2008, accused by the Executive Director of the Medical Board of California of having a history of substance dependence and abuse for more than 10 years and documented an abuse of substances including alcohol. His spouse said he was being treated for addiction anxiety and depression at the time of the accident.

Borchers' final trip took the 97-hour student pilot over the Sierra Nevada mountain range at night. He crashed two miles north of Incline Village, Nev., at 9:30 p.m., on a desolate mountainside. His work at Stanford University School of Medicine included working alongside Dr. John Adler, who invented a device used in treatment of brain tumors. Borchers had suggested a way to use the technology "to treat the neurological roots of addiction," the Mercury News reported.