My health care clients are professionals under investigation for DUI, work-place narcotic diversion, or any other criminal or Drug Act violations. The filing of a criminal complaint or licensing board investigation of an impairment allegation triggers a referral to the Professional Health Monitoring Program (“PHMP”).
The next step is the assigned case worker sends a “letter of concern”. I have written extensively about the letter of concern. These letters “advise” licensees how to avoid Board prosecution when there is no Board prosecution. These letters inform licensees how to help themselves when the criminal case is pending, a Board investigation is incomplete, or a work place matter has been closed or new employment secured.
I am writing this updated blog during our pandemic because this “Letter of Concern” is extremely deceiving. The letter claims the Voluntary Recovery Program provides a method by which licensed health care professionals suffering from a mental or physical disorder can be directed to appropriate treatment and received monitoring to ensure they remain capable of practicing safely.
However, the program never does this. PHMP case workers do not direct medical, psychiatric, or psychological care. The PHMP case workers do not prescribe medicine, can not give medical advice, and do not have authority to vary the PHMP for participant’s individual issues.
Before any formal Board order is entered – or formal medical doctor evaluation takes place – the PHMP, VRP case worker almost forces the healthcare professional to admit they are addicted to drugs or alcohol. Then, pre-Board order, the PHMP VRP case worker forces licensees to comply with the job and career ending monitoring program.
The letter offering the VRP first identifies licensees eligibility to participate in the program. Eligibility requires evaluation buy a VRP assessor, not board certified drug and alcohol addiction medical doctor. Eligibility requires licenses to an accept and adhere to a treatment plan approved by the assessor, at the licensee’s own expense. Eligibility requires pre-Board approval of an agreement that the licensee not accept or continue employment in any position requiring licensure until the VRP case manager or assessor approved by licensee to work.
To be “eligible” the professional must admit they are impaired, voluntarily surrender to the dictates of the VRP program caseworker, and then successfully complete at least three years of monitoring. The program demands complete cooperation with the caseworker’s demands for unrestricted access to medical records, supervision of all medications, and demand for attendance in NA or AA programs for three to five years. 90 in 90, and then every day thereafter until the case workers says stop. The hell with your job, family, relationship, the weather, vacation.
All of these eligibility in terms and conditions of participation in the VRP are based upon licensees admitting to an addiction or impairment. Any licensee who agrees to the terms of this pre Board ordered program without clearly understanding what they are doing risks their entire career.