Advantages of Physician Health Programs

Physician health programs have created a remarkably successful model of actively and intensively managing the care of recovering physicians over time. Based on over four decades of experience, PHPs have set a high standard for outcomes in substance abuse treatment for physicians.

High Success Rates

Addicted physicians who participate in physician health programs have exceptionally high long-term recovery rates – not simply because they’re physicians but because they have unique resources available to them, such as PHPs and specialized addiction treatment for impaired physicians, and are motivated to get well when their career depends on it. Following treatment, the majority return to practice, and prognosis for recovery is better than among the general population.

Physician health programs consistently report an exceptional success rate:

• Only about 20% of doctors test positive within a five-year period after being admitted to a PHP.

• More than three-quarters maintain their license and continue working within the same five-year period.

Here are a few additional advantages of physician health programs:


• PHPs approach addictions as chronic, progressive diseases that can be treated to produce lifelong abstinence and enhanced quality of life.

• PHPs encourage early referral, long-term treatment and intensive management of impaired physicians.

• PHPs often assist physicians not only with substance use disorders, but also psychiatric disorders, degenerative physical or neurologic diseases, disruptive behavior and professional sexual misconduct.

• Because they are not constrained by legal requirements (such as prolonged investigations, hearings and due process) in the same way as medical boards, PHPs often act quickly at the first report of credible symptoms to recommend discontinuation of practice and entry into evaluation and, when needed, treatment (even same day, in some cases).

• There are few recorded cases of patient harm following referral for PHP care.

• PHPs educate physicians and health care institutions about the importance of early referral and confidential reporting.

• PHPs require absolute abstinence and take any sign of relapse very seriously.

• PHPs utilize highly qualified evaluation programs for assessments to identify substance abuse problems and co-occurring disorders.

• PHPs report that over 95% of licensees fully cooperate with their recommendations.


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