We are concerned about a physician on staff. Where do we start?
We want to assure you that asking this question IS the start. Indeed, it is the most crucial element. Acknowledging the potential impairment of a physician in your practice or your hospital can be the beginning of a return to health for the doctor. In addition, it can also be an important step toward keeping the employer and hospital from becoming “professional enablers” and allowing a dangerous situation to develop.
A first step for many organizations is to consult the risk management department. If you have quesions about legal issues, they can offer you specific guidance regarding employee’s rights, privacy issues and other concerns.
Additionally, we can serve as a valuable resource to you. Providing education, practical guidance, referrals for in-depth assessments is just the start. We will partner with you every step of the way if risk of impairment is determined. Our extensive experience in the treatment of impaired physicians and other health care providers in unparalleled in the field.
If we are worried about drug use, should we put the doctor on “watch” and get random urines for a while?
Typically, work is the last place to suffer when drug abuse or addiction develops. That symptoms of drug use are present at work may indicate a very serious problem. To “watch and wait” may not be the kindest or the safest approach. Confronting the doctor without preparation and collection of collateral data may send a problem further underground.
This is where we can step in and assist you in assessing the problem. We can make specific recommendations and refer you to resources specializing in the treatment of impaired physicians. Pacific Assistance Group can also provide ongoing support and monitoring services, allowing the employer or hospital to get out of the monitoring business and get back to the business of medicine.
Does the Medical Board of California offer a confidential Diversion Program for impaired physicians?
Sadly, the Medical Board of California allowed the Diverison Program to sunset June 30, 2008. There currently is no replacement program. If a physician is reported to the Medical Board for an alcohol or drug program, the only avenue open is to investigate, discipline and/or revoke. Doctors can not currently be diverted from discipline. This is one reason early intervention and referral for treatment and monitoring may be the best approach. Pacific Assistance Group offers confidential, private monitoring and assistance as an alternative to discipline.