- Why is a Physician’s Health Program necessary?
We expect a lot from our doctors and other health professionals – they are under constant pressure to perform and when caring for patients, there is no room for error. However, they are people, too. Like us, they can get stressed and burned out; they can suffer from mental or emotional illnesses, or fall victim to addictions or self-destructive behavior. When they do, like us, it can affect their careers and their families. But they are unique in that their illnesses and behaviors can impact the safety of others. The PHP was created to help them get better even as it works to protect and safeguard patients. Tennessee’s regulatory and healthcare entities know the special needs health professionals have and support the PHP as it steps in to assist physicians and other healthcare professionals in treatment, return to practice, and ongoing recovery.
- What problems does the PHP address?
The TMF PHP is prepared to help with the following issues:
- Alcohol and Drug Dependency
- Disruptive Behavior
- Boundary Issues
- Psychiatric Disorders
- Cognitive Deficits
- Other Behavioral Illnesses
- Who is the PHP able to assist?
The program is able to work with the following populations:
- Physicians – MDs and DOs
- Medical students
- Physician Assistants
- X-Ray Technicians
- How do I know when a provider needs help?
If a provider you know is unable to perform their professional duties in a reasonable, safe manner consistent with professional standards, they could endanger patients. Warning signs can include increased absenteeism, subtle changes in behavior or appearance that may increase in severity over time; deteriorating job performance and progress notes; mood swings and personality changes; overreaction to situations that is out of character from the past.
- Can I report someone anonymously?
Yes. Anyone can contact the PHP with concern about a healthcare professional at 615-467-6411. We will take your information for our own purposes but if requested, we will honor your need for anonymity.
- Can a provider call on their own?
Absolutely. We encourage physicians and other licensed health professionals to contact us directly with questions or concerns about a problem before it becomes career or life threatening.
- How does the program work?
The process usually starts with a phone call, during which a doctor or other healthcare provider with one of the above issues is identified. Once the problem is verified with those around that person, the TMF’s clinical staff conducts an interview with them, and if needed, sends them to a licensed expert for evaluation of their problem. If treatment is recommended, the TMF supports them during that time and following treatment, helps them with re-entry into their practice. During a contract period, which ranges according to the individual need, the TMF helps with monitoring and accountability of their post-treatment care regimen, which can include therapy, support groups, random urine drug testing, on-the-job monitoring, and quarterly visits with an assigned PHP case manager. The TMF also offers support with any licensing, insurance or disciplinary issues during that time. At the end of the agreed contract period, the physician or provider is released from PHP oversight but the program remains available to assist with any further recovery issues.
- How is the PHP funded?
The TMF PHP is a 501(c)3 organization. A good portion of the program’s support comes from grants from the state of Tennessee and from health-related foundations, associations and the State Volunteer Mutual Insurance Company (SVMIC). Other funding is provided through gifts from hospital systems and medical groups, monitoring fees for some participants, donations from individual physicians, and individual donations by the general public. Your support is invaluable to us – please join with us in continuing to provide a lifeline for Tennessee physicians!