Prescription for Ailing Physicians

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Professional Assessment Services and Solutions (PASS)offers a variety of professional services to healthcare providers who wish to improve their interpersonal communications among colleagues, employees, patients, and families.

While having a bad bedside manner is not grounds for malpractice, professional behavior and the ability to communicate effectively is essential to every physician-patient relationship. When these breakdowns occur, a physician becomes more vulnerable to malpractice cases, complaints filed with medical boards, and in some cases, dismissal from HMO plans. Concerned over inappropriate physician behavior and the rise in patient complaints, Professional Assessment Services and Solutions (PASS) is enrolling physicians in their week long treatment program targeted at rehabilitating disruptive physicians. The launch is April 4, 2005 with ongoing programs scheduled throughout the year.

“During my tenure at the Arizona Medical Board, approximately 80% of patient complaints involved disrespectful and rude behavior,“ cited Barry Cassidy, PhD, PA-C, chief executive of PASS and former executive director for the Arizona Medical Board.

The first program of its type in the country, PASS targets at-risk licensed professionals who have demonstrated disruptive behavior and are in jeopardy of losing their medical license, individual reputations, insurance coverage, and ultimately their entire careers.

Once admitted, physicians will go through a battery of psychological tests and personal interviews performed by nationally recognized psychologists and psychiatrists to develop individualized treatment programs.

In addition to personal and group counseling, physicians will be enrolled in educational seminars focusing on aspects of their medicalpractice which could conceivably be adding to their stress. Local consultants will provide training in the areas of negotiation skill development; communication enhancement counseling; financial and business counseling; and personal and professional debt restructuring.

In support of their mission to enhance self-awareness, PASS will also offer exercise classes, diet, wardrobe assessment and etiquette training.

The cost will be born by the at-risk physician and will vary depending on the individual’s needs. Fees range from $1,000 to $10,000; a small investment to preserve a physician’s ability to practice medicine.

“Research shows that disruptive physicians have significant negative impact on co-workers, increase the likelihood of medical malpractice claims and increase errors in patient care. While hospital committees and medical boards play a significant role in protecting the public, PASS provides impaired physicians a preventative approach to understanding and treating the behavior to avoid potential harm,” states Cassidy.

“There is a national shortage of health care providers; therefore, anything that can be done to proactively address physician behavioral issues before a disciplinary action ensues is a win-win for both the provider and the community they care for,” remarked John Shufeldt, MD, FACEP, founder of PASS.

When asked about the motivation for developing the program Shufeldt responded, “My professional and post-doctoral educational endeavors have led me to this concept; no longer can ‘physician heal thyself’ be the mantra. As providers, we must work together, for the benefit of our patients, to engender a culture of tolerance, personal reflection, and interpersonal growth.”

For more information please contact Amy Esplin at (480) 776-1602 or aesplin@passusa.org. Additional informaion can also be found on the website at http://www.PASSUSA.org

About Professional Assessment Services and Solutions (PASS)

PASS offers at-risk physicians a solution that, when successful, will reinvigorate both their personal and professional lives, and will reduce their risk of adverse interpersonal interactions, disruptive behaviors, and career failure.

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Kellyann Kimble
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