Leadership | 03.17.21
Are Punitive Rules Forcing Doctors to Hide Their Mental Health Problems?
The pandemic has only intensified the burnout that physicians already faced before the crisis. A 2018 literature review of 10 years of research published in peer-reviewed journals showed that physician suicide was twice the rate of the general population. In most states, once a physician seeks help for mental health issues, they're obligated to report their condition on their application for a state medical license. Answering mental health-related screening questions honestly can raise a red flag, putting the physician's license at risk. Advocates say state medical boards can go too far, discriminating against them for seeking help. Mayo Clinic Proceedings found that 40 percent of physicians were reluctant to get help for a mental health condition due to the impact it can have on their medical license. To address this, the American Medical Association adopted a new policy in 2018 that encouraged state licensing boards to focus screening questions on a physician's current impairment rather than past medical history.
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