Routinely, criminal contact (from public intoxication, a DUI, to a drug diversion allegation or sleeping in the work place) comes to the attention of every professional's licensing board and the PHMP. This triggers a "Letter of Concern."
This is a letter sent to the unsuspecting licensee, commencing with the sentence: "It has come to our attention that you may be suffering from a drug or alcohol impairment that affects you ability to practice your profession. We are concerned."
This letter is from the PHMP and suggests participating in an evaluation to protect your professional license in a confidential manner without disciplinary action. DON'T FALL FOR IT.
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At this point of the many, two reactions are typical. First, "NO WAY. I'm not going." These licensees hit the internet, research, find my blogs and call me. Good plan. You may skip to the end of this page. For those who are on the fence, keep reading.
The second reaction is that many think the evaluation will help. These inexperienced licensees, but to no one's surprise, attend the evaluation, thinking he or she will pass "with flying colors."
This thought process is a mistake and wrong. Unbeknownst to these professionals, the evaluation is conducted by untrained, non-medically based treatment evaluators. These social workers or counsels work at these facilities, get paid for conducting these evaluation and routinely diagnose people to need PHMP monitoring and treatment at their facility.
Licensees often forget that the PHMP has referred them to the treatment facility which, naturally, has a financial interest in finding a treatable condition for which it would be capable of providing care.
For the professional that freaks out but is on the fence about attending, researching what are PHP, PHMP, & PNAP will lead them to my blogs and this possible blog. After reading you will realize the evaluation is merely a fishing expedition. The evaluator is fishing for anything upon which they can hang their diagnosis of a drug or alcohol abuse, use, or dependence disorder for which treatment and/or monitoring is required.
Check my blog for information about what documents these evaluators seek, medical records they wish to review, and medial authorizations they try to get signed.
These evaluators only know of you what you the professional tells them. There is no prior basis for professional monitoring. While telling the truth is important, you have no obligation to attend a PHMP suggested evaluation stemming from a "letter of concern." There is no Board order. Your professional license is not under investigation and no discipline has been handed down compelling attendance or treatment. My question then is, why go?
This voluntary participation is the problem. Attending these evaluations and being completely cooperative provides the PHMP, your Board, and the untrained social worker evaluator information of which all three are unaware, don't know and do not have a right to know.
Cathartic as it may feel to unburden and talk to this PHMP evaluator, most of the time it will lead to significantly more legal problems. Disclosing information and authorizing the evaluator's entity to obtain confidential, non-work related medical records opens the professional up to a much deeper evaluation than the "letter of concern" originally suggested or even what the professional anticipated in attending the evaluation.
Many professionals receive proper medical care and take prescribed medications for short or long term diagnosed medical or mental health conditions. Many evaluators know nothing about the complexity of medical care, treatment regimens, prescription medication protocols, or dosages. These are medical decisions for which only licensed doctors can interpret and address.
Telling drug social workers at a treatment facility about the prescription medications only leads to their stereotyping you into some medical condition requiring monitoring or further evaluations. This just deepens the fishing expedition.
When you read your "Letter of Concern," do not freak out. DO NOT SCHEDULE OR ATTEND THE EVALUATION.
Call me at 1-877-4-HARK-LAW (1-877-442-7552) to discuss your options.
What is PHMP 'Cooperation'?
A licensee who has chosen to enter the VRP, enters a program the PHMP administers and is monitored daily by a PNAP, Sarph, or other Board case worker. The touchstone of every program is binding the licensee to "cooperation." Cooperation requires each participant to insure their assigned case worker perceives "cooperation" at every level of the program. Cooperation with everything and anything a case worker requires is the fundamental agreement.
Perceived cooperation starts before the PHMP/PHP contract is signed, regardless of whether the respective professional board has executed the Consent Agreement. (See my blog discussing the 6 to 9 months between entering the PHMP/PHP and receiving the formal consent agreement.)
Cooperation begins with the initial assessment — not contesting the untrained social worker's specious conclusion of an impairment, and enrolling in the designated drug or alcohol treatment regiment at their location for which they have a financial interest.
- Compliance means signing releases for entire medical histories, work evaluations, drug and alcohol test reports, and employment monitoring documents and then paying for all such documents.
- Compliance means not working in the specific areas of professional practice of which your case worker unilaterally decided was against the program.
- Compliance means going to drug or alcohol testing facilities on time, complying with their specimen donation protocol, and paying for all associated costs every day or week even when you are not working because your case worker unilaterally decided that you can't work.
- Compliance means eating certain foods, undergoing certain medical procedures, and releasing all pharmacy records.
- Compliance can also mean (according to your designated caseworker) not contesting certain errors in chain of custody, specimen collection, or specimen retesting requirements.
- Compliance could also mean not seeking earlier evaluations for return to work or termination of the PHMP program upon completion of the time set forth in the PHMP contract.
Compliance, or lack of compliance, could also mean acknowledging or not agreeing to a positive/failed drug test for a substance not permitted in your PHMP contract. Noncompliance is not admitting to a violation. Caseworkers seek admissions of violating the drug or alcohol provision of the contract. These admissions constitute an automatic basis to terminate or extend the PHMP contract.
At this juncture a lack of admission/compliance prompts every caseworker to change their demeanor. Rather than an advocate, caseworkers become policemen seeking to secure evidence/admissions.
Admissions of violating the drug policy for any type of banded substance are used against the PHMP participant in a Rule to Show Cause petition for termination or revocation proceeding. Minor violations of drug and alcohol policy (based upon complete abstinence) are treated the same as major violations of the program for prescription medications.
Counsel is necessary to help navigate these issues of compliance or noncompliance. Statements made to caseworkers are always used against the participant. They are placed into pleading language presented to the board as a basis for termination or revocation.
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