The Law Offices of Brian E. Quinn

Doctors hesitate to seek help due to licensing board fears

Pennsylvania doctors and all other licensed physicians are humans, just like everyone else. That means they might experience the same types of problems an average person has in his or her private life. Sadly, recent studies show that many doctors hesitate to get help for certain issues because they fear possible licensing board repercussions.

One study suggested that as many as 40 percent of all licensed doctors in the nation say they will not get mental health assistance because they are afraid their licenses would then be at risk. In some states, licensing applications include questions regarding mental health conditions. Doctors in those states are more likely to avoid seeking help for mental health-related problems, says the study.

A Mayo Clinic professor of medical education and medicine lamented that many doctors who commit suicide suffered from highly treatable mental disorders that could have been addressed were those afflicted not so afraid to seek help. Research shows some licensing boards may sanction doctors who receive adverse mental health diagnoses. Others say there is a type of blacklist on which doctors who get help for their mental problems often find themselves within their industries.

Current statistics show that as many as 32 state licensing boards ask questions regarding mental health conditions on license application forms. Physician and mental health advocates say reform is needed. Removing such questions, they say, will help erase the stigma attached to doctors seeking mental health assistance. Any Pennsylvania doctor facing license problems associated with a mental health condition may seek help to rectify the situation by requesting a meeting with an attorney well-versed in state medical licensing laws.

Source: Reuters, "Doctors may fear losing their license for seeking mental health care," Ronnie Cohen, Oct. 10, 2017

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