Governor Brown Approves Statewide Program for Early Identification and Treatment of Physicians

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A newly approved statewide physician health and wellness program will provide for early identification of physicians with addiction disorders. Physicians can be referred to the program to find treatment, and it will monitor those physicians to ensure public safety, according to the California Society of Addiction Medicine (CSAM).

'This program model is an effective way to safeguard patients from healthcare professionals who abuse alcohol and other drugs,' said Monika Koch, MD, President, California Society of Addiction Medicine.

For the past seven years, California has lacked a coordinated statewide program for early intervention and treatment of physicians who are developing problems with alcohol and drugs. Now, thanks to legislation authored by Senator Cathleen Galgiani and signed by Governor Jerry Brown, a program will be created to initiate referral of those physicians to treatment and to monitor those physicians until it can be assured that they may safely resume medical practice.

"A well-designed system of assessment, early intervention, treatment and monitoring will be the greatest benefit to all Californians," said Kerry Parker, Executive Director of the California Society of Addiction Medicine (CSAM), a sponsor of the legislation.

The Medical Board of California (MBC) will soon issue a Request for Proposal (RFP) seeking an entity to administer this program to initially be funded through the Medical Contingency Fund and participant fees. There will be no cost to the state or taxpayers. For physicians who self-report to the program, confidentiality will be protected as long as the participant complies with the terms of program participation.

“We physicians understand the importance of protecting patients, and this program model is an effective way to safeguard patients from healthcare professionals who abuse alcohol and other drugs,” said Monika Koch, MD, President of the California Society of Addiction Medicine. "A system based only on punishment causes those who need help to instead hide their problems, which creates a greater threat to the health and safety of California healthcare consumers,” she said. “In many other states where our new program model already exists, it has been proven to protect patient safety, while assisting physicians and those who are trying to intervene with a physician, to get the help they may need,” said Dr. Koch.

For more information on other programs currently in place that assist health professionals who identify, refer, treat, and monitor physicians with potentially impairing conditions, contact California Public Protection & Physician Health (CPPPH) at:

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Kerry Parker, Executive Director
since: 10/2013
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