Why Do Physicians Fail To Self-Report?

Why Do Physicians Struggle with Self-Reporting-physicianhealthprogramDrug abuse in health care professionals is not uncommon. In fact, physicians and nurses are often more vulnerable to substance abuse and more likely to have a substance use disorder than the general population. It seems counterintuitive and that health care workers should know better than to abuse drugs or drink excessively, but work stress and other factors cause many doctors to turn to drugs or drinking.

Physicians abusing drugs is a serious problem for patient safety, and while doctors care about their patients, reporting and getting help for addiction is tough to do. Many never self-report, but with physician health programs in almost all states, that is changing.

Why Do Physicians Get Addicted?

How can doctors be getting addicted to drugs? They know how bad drugs are for the mind and body. They know about addiction and how quickly it can happen. There are several factors that make physicians particularly susceptible to substance abuse and addiction.

The first is simply the nature of the work they do. The stress and pressure to succeed, plus the long working hours, begin in medical school.

Many doctors work long hours and have the lives of their patients in their hands. Drugs and alcohol can be an easy and quick way to unwind and escape. Doctors with drug habits can also be blamed on accessibility. Physicians can get their hands on prescription medicines more easily than anyone else.

Why Self-Reporting Is Rare With Physicians

Regardless of how it happens, being a doctor with an addiction is a serious issue. Physicians have to make important decisions every day, many that can mean the difference between the life and death of a patient.

Even less monumental choices, if made badly because of a drug-induced mistake, can cause patients harm and discomfort. Perhaps because of this great responsibility, a physician is likely to be hesitant to admit to having an addiction.

In addition to the fear of losing the respect of patients and colleagues, doctors struggling with addiction don’t like to self-report because they worry about losing their jobs and their medical licenses. Doctors who abuse substances should not be practicing, and they know it. Reporting is naturally difficult. Many doctors even hesitate to report others because of professional courtesy.

How Physician Health Programs Can Help

All but four states have physician health programs, or PHPs, that are designed not only to help addicted doctors, but also to encourage more to report themselves and their colleagues. These physician recovery programs treat doctors with effective and targeted plans.

What makes a PHP so enticing for a doctor with a drug problem is that they help patients get back to work being physicians. PHPs use treatment coupled with long-term monitoring to ensure that physicians are ready and capable of going back to work.

By providing a solution rather than condemnation and banning doctors from practicing for good, PHPs encourage more doctors to self-report addiction. They also encourage more doctors to report on their colleagues without fear of ruining someone else’s career. Physician health program contacts can help anyone willing to report their addiction and ask for help.

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