Physician Suicide and Physician Health Programs: The Elephant in the Room

“A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes”

–Mark Twain

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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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