1. Lack of confidentiality. May have to turn over medical records to others who control your career.
2. State medical boards demand to know. May be excluded from practicing medicine in that state.
3. Hospitals demand to know. May be excluded from hospital staff privileges.
4. Insurance plans demand to know. May be excluded from insurance contracts.
5. Forced into costly, ineffective, and punitive physician health programs. May have to submit to a 12-step program and random urine drug screens — even if never used drugs.
So to prevent being punished and having one’s career derailed, doctors hide their mental health conditions. Most don’t seek the care they would suggest to their own patients. Those who do seek care often pay cash, use fake names, and drive hundreds of miles out of town to hide their treatment — then lie on mental health questions.
Witnessing pain, suffering, and death in one’s medical career may lead to mental health issues. So why punish doctors?
Pamela Wible pioneered the community-designed ideal medical clinic and blogs at Ideal Medical Care. She is the author of Physician Suicide Letters — Answered and Pet Goats and Pap Smears. Watch her TEDx talk, How to Get Naked with Your Doctor. She hosts the physician retreat, Live Your Dream, to help her colleagues heal from grief and reclaim their lives and careers.
Image credit: Shutterstock.com