Article by Pamela Wible, M.D. discussing physician suicide and addressing the role of Physician Health Programs (PHPs)

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Physician Suicide–What to do When Your Doctor Dies Suddenly by Pamela Wible, M.D.

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Physician Suicide 101: Secrets, Lies & Solutions by Dr. Pamela Wible, M.D

Physician Suicide 101:  Secrets, Lies & Solutions  By Dr. Pamela Wible, M.D. will hopefully serve as a stepping-stone to start discussing Physician Health Programs (PHPs) and their relationship to physician suicide.    (click on photo above to access article).

The current state-of-affairs is one of unrestrained  managerial authority and absolute power with no meaningful oversight, regulation or accountability.    Moreover, the authority bestowed on this group is both illegitimate and irrational.  The Federation of State Physician Health Programs is composed of American Society of Addiction Medicine “specialists” in “Addiction Medicine.”    The ASAM is not even recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties as a bona fide specialty.  It is a Self-Designated-Medical-Specialty;  an AMA  term used to keep track of what any group of doctors is calling themselves.    American  Board of Addiction Medicine (ABMS) “board certification” is little more than a diploma mill.   Yet these “specialists” are now in charge of ALL things in PHYSICIAN HEALTH.    Many of the physicians running these programs had their licenses revoked and got them back by claiming salvation through the good graces of Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12-step methodology.  Many have felony convictions.  Some have double felonies.

At best we have unqualified zealots.   But one major problem I have heard over and over again from physicians forced into these programs is an absolute lack of justice, empathy and even civility by those in charge.  Misconduct, fraud, and even crimes are being reported.   Perhaps the 12-step salvation is just a ruse for some of them; a convenient cloak under which to hide all manner of abuse with impunity and immunity.

The majority of physicians would never do many of the things those now in charge have done no matter how inebriated, intoxicated or otherwise “impaired.”

Most doctors would never think of selling the “date-rape” drug to DEA agents or pilfering IV narcotics from cancer patients who need them.    But if you do a search of some of the doctors who run these PHP programs you’ll find this type of repugnant behavior is all represented.  “i’ve changed.”  “Give me a second chance.”     History will eventually look upon this like the lobotomy.  What the hell were they thinking.  Some of these people should never have gotten their licenses back.   They not only did but were put in charge. Brilliant!

And these are the individuals who have been granted unrestrained managerial prerogative and absolute power over all of doctors.  They decide not only who to monitor but how that monitoring proceeds in every last detail.  Our fates, literally, lie in the hands of this group.   No more physicians should die by this system of institutional injustice, bullying and pseudoscience.  The conflicts-of-interest are abhorrent and would be incomprehensible in any other venue.  Isn’t it time we take charge?  And the solution is fairly simple.  Oversight, regulation,  and auditing by OUTSIDE groups. That is how it’s done everywhere else.  Why do these guys get a pass?     Accountability is a rule not an exception.    Hopefully this article will succeed in framing certain questions for the medical profession; questions that we all need to think about now before the door closes for good.

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7 thoughts on “Article by Pamela Wible, M.D. discussing physician suicide and addressing the role of Physician Health Programs (PHPs)

  1. I think you are doing a marvelous work . Something has to be addressed if there is as much Dr suicide . However I am working on and praying about my own attitude about the matter and wonder if you have any suggestions . To me suicide is the most offensive , insulting act anyone can do . Within your profession it just blows my mind . Most doctors are children of privilege and suicide among the privileged really leaves me confused and angry.in addition to being left handed , dyslexic and clumsy I am one of the world’s oldest speed babies , created by the Dr that gave my mother amphetamines while pregnant . If I made it through life in spite of my problems . How am I to have compassion for rich kids that grow up suicidal . Wish I could be more sympathetic, got any suggestions , books or therapeutic ideas . Sometimes I feel like a lowlife for my attitude but haven’t been able to change it though I have tried for much of my 67 years

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    • Thank you Ed. You should not feel like a “lowlife” or your attitude as it is based on your experience with doctors and it sounds as if yours has not been pleasant. But in my experience doctors are just like everyone else–most are good people with good hearts trying to do the best they can in the best interests of their patients. As with any profession, however, there are bad ones and a lot of times it is these doctors that get the media attention (such as the oncologist in Detroit recently who was telling patients who did not have cancer that they did so he could give them unneeded chemotherapy and make money). But I assure you most doctors are good people. You say you have had this attitude for 67-years? Might it have something to do with the doctor that prescribed your mother amphetamines? Keep in mind that in the 1950s Dexedrine (and other amphetamines) were being promoted heavily by the pharmaceutical manufacturers to doctors for all sorts of ailments including side-effects of pregnancy. Dexedrine was prescribed to pregnant women for nausea, vomiting, pregnancy related depression, appetite control and weight loss! They also handed out samples to doctors who used them to stay up when they were on call. Many doctors became addicted to Methedrine, Benzedrine, Dexedrine and others in the 1950s through early 1960s. And although some doctors are “rich kids” of privilege it is not the majority. Most doctors I know are not including myself. I have worked continuously since I was 15 including during medical school doing two jobs (taking care of the anatomical library and spending the night a couple times a week assisting in emergency C-sections for minimum wage). Many of the doctors who are killing themselves are feeling entrapped, helpless and hopeless and feeling they have no way out. The truth is these groups have blocked accountability. These groups have no oversight or regulation and aided by co-conspirators they have absolute power to ruin a doctors career. No one should have to be in that position whoever they are. Justice, honesty, transparency and fairness is something we should demand of everyone and for everyone.

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      • I think I did not make myself clear. The attitude I refer to is about suicide not doctors . It is just that suicide is so offensive and sickening to me . Factoring doctors into the mix just pops my melon .
        And I know all the facts you say about amphetamines . I did not discover I was a speed baby til I was 50 so , no I do not believe that is the reason for my attitude

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