A significant percentage of physicians experience mental health issues, including depression, anxiety and burnout due to staff shortages, high patient demand, lack of administrative support and faults in the healthcare industry. But only a few disclose their conditions.
A physician’s mental health issue can affect their duties. But if treated, a doctor can continue serving patients competently. So why do some avoid disclosing their mental health issues?
Fear of losing their license
The Pennsylvania (PA) State Medical Board protects the public from impaired physicians. If a doctor’s mental health affects their competency, they can lose their license. Accordingly, some doctors avoid discussing their mental health issues to prevent raising concerns from the board.
Stigma is another reason some physicians avoid discussing their mental health issues. Cases of doctors going out of town to seek treatment or paying cash for treatment to prevent a record on their insurance database are not uncommon. Some even hide their faces in the waiting rooms to avoid being recognized.
It can be challenging for a physician to keep their case confidential after informing the board, as an investigation will happen. Additionally, the board may require the physician to attend a physician health program.
What is the PA State Medical Board doing to improve this issue?
The board emphasizes the importance of physician health and encourages doctors to seek treatment for all health conditions. Further, the board typically clarifies an investigation is not the same as taking disciplinary action. Accordingly, a doctor doesn’t have to feel stigmatized when under investigation.
If you lost your medical license due to a mental health condition or you believe your case was unfairly handled, get legal help to know the steps to take to protect your career and reputation.