FSPHP Responds to Article on Treatment of Health Professionals with Opioid Use Disorder

As president-elect of the Federation of State Physician Health Programs, TMF Medical Director Dr. Michael Baron recently joined current and former FSPHP Presidents Dr. Scott Hambleton and Dr. Chris Bundy in responding to an article published in the Journal of Addiction Medicine on treatment of health professionals with opioid use disorder (OUD).

The initial article, “Helping the Helpers — making access to buprenorphine a new standard of care for physicians in state monitoring programs,” was published in the July 2022 issue of the Journal. Its authors make the case that the Federation of State Medical Board’s (FSMB) recommendations concerning the use of buprenorphine for physicians in state-affiliated monitoring programs falls short of effectively permitting an evidence-based treatment for opioid use disorder.

Drs. Hambleton, Bundy, and Baron, call attention to the article’s omission of relevant references including the FSPHP Position Statement, FSPHP Safety Considerations for Medication Treatment for Monitored Health Professional, and the  FSMB Policy on Physician Illness and Impairment – A Model to Optimize Patient Safety and Physician Health.

In summary, the response states that “ Treatment of safety-sensitive workers with OUD is challenging, and neither a prohibition against the use of buprenorphine nor a mandate for its use is appropriate. Physician Health Programs must effectively manage the complex issues related to licensure and fitness for duty for safety-sensitive workers. Physician Health Programs save careers and lives. Addressing the education gap regarding PHP services can help to reduce stigma and incentivize early treatment and may serve as a model for helping all patients with addiction.

Read the original article in the Journal of Addiction Medicine.

Read the FSPHP Letter to the Editor.

Read the original author’s response to the FSPHP letter.