The TMA Committee on Physician Health and Rehabilitation promotes the health and well being of physicians as well as the treatment and rehabilitation of those who have become impaired for whatever reason. It is the responsibility of all members of the medical profession to ensure that the practice of medicine is conducted using the highest moral, ethical and scientific standards.
The function of the PHR committee is three-fold: 1) to promote physician health and well-being, 2) to ensure safe patient care by identifying physicians whose practice is impaired and 3) to advocate for the physician while maintaining confidentiality and the highest ethical standards.
As advocates, the committee helps with intervention, referral for evaluation and treatment, if necessary, monitoring upon return from treatment, and education for physicians, family members and support staff regarding possible impairments.
PHR Committee Activities
- 24-Hour Hotline: (800) 880-1640
- Continuing Medical Education Programs
- Drug Screen Program for Physicians
- PHR Assistance Fund
- Outreach to medical students and resident physicians
- Hospital/Joint Commission Standard re: Licensed Independent Practitioner Health
A 24-hour toll free number is available that anyone may call if he or she is concerned about a possibly impaired physician.
The PHR committee believes that education is the path to recognition, and thus assistance, for physicians who need help with drug or alcohol addiction, depression, or other problems that may disrupt professional and/or personal lives. In an endeavor to educate physicians and others, the committee offers ongoing educational courses. In addition, the committee offers two statewide conferences each year.
The Drug Screen Program for Physicians provides a statewide, consistent method for random drug screening of physicians under agreement with county medical society PHR committees, district coordinators, and hospital-based peer assistance committees.
Through the PHR Assistance Fund, financial assistance is available to physicians who cannot afford treatment for depression, chemical dependency, or other problems or whose families need short-term living expenses while a physician receives treatment. Donations to the fund are appreciated and are tax-deductible.
The committee is involved in various projects to assist medical students and resident physicians who may know of a peer who needs assistance or who may need assistance themselves. Projects include educational courses and literature.
A plan of action also was developed to respond to a Joint Commission requirement that hospital medical staffs implement a process to identify and manage matters of individual physician health separately from the medical staff disciplinary function.
Who the PHR Committee Serves
- 58,343 licensed physicians
- 23,507,783 citizens
Texas is a very large state both by population and geography. There are approximately 58,343 physicians and 23,507,783 citizens.
Physicians involved in the PHR committee function on a volunteer basis. The state is divided into 15 districts served by district coordinators. Some of these physician volunteers cover a geographical area of hundreds of miles. There are approximately 50 county medical society PHR committees throughout the state. Some are very active with numerous, hardworking volunteers, and some consist of only one or two physicians.
Issues Addressed by the PHR Committee
- 66% Substance Use Disorders
- 18% Disruptive behavior
- 4% Physical disabilities
- 2% Cognitive impairment
- 10% Other psychiatric disorders
(TMA PHR Quarterly Reports 2010)
The majority of cases referred to Texas county medical society PHR committees have involved substance abuse or dependence. However, as hospitals and medical societies are more aware of physician impairment, disruptive and dysfunctional behaviors of all types are being reported. Referrals for stress management and boundary issues also are referred to the PHR committee.
In this module, we will not address Substance Use Disorders, boundary issues, physical, or cognitive issues as those topics are addressed in other PHRC courses. This module will address mental disorder symptomatology and disruptive behavior.