When endless debates surround the issue of solving the drug problem, rarely is the discussion targeted at doctors. According to Central Ohio News, there are hundreds of doctors in Ohio alone dealing with drug and alcohol addictions. What’s worse, the report notes that they are still in practice.
The Harvard Review of Psychiatry published a study in 2008 that found rates of prescription misuse five times higher among physicians than the general public. As a result of this study, more doctors are turning to the Ohio’s Physicians Health Program, which was formed in 1972 to provide these doctors help with their addictions.
One doctor cited in the Central Ohio News report insisted that he had not killed anyone and was sure he had covered himself enough, but knew there were problems. He is sure that he blew people off and “missed some stuff.” When doctors miss things, they are taking chances with someone else’s life.
For many of these situations, the complaints are taken in front of the State Medical Board of Ohio. This board alone receives four thousand complaints a year. According to Medical Board Director Richard Whitehouse, nearly half of the board’s actions in 2008 were based on impairment.
“We want the public to know that the board is aware of this,” Whitehouse said in the News. “First of all, we recognize it as a disease. We recognize it as a problem because if someone is impaired, there is a risk to the public. If we’ve found someone is impaired, we’re going to take them out of practice until we’re sure they can practice and see patients.”
Such situations put the board in a challenging position as they don’t want to destroy careers, but they do want to be sure that patients are safe. Intervention is definitely one step getting these doctors the help that they need, although constant access to potent drugs can be a challenging environment to overcome.
Many boards are now working with addiction treatment programs to develop diversion programs to get physician’s the help they need while meeting the requirements of licensing boards. Promises Treatment Centers have developed a comprehensive approach to addiction treatment for physicians and other professionals such as nurses and attorneys.