Many physicians and medical professionals in Pennsylvania resist treatment for addiction out of fear of losing their license. Over time, addiction is becoming less stigmatized, but unfortunately, it can still result in the loss of the right to practice your profession.
Understanding the laws about addiction and medical licenses in Pennsylvania may help you plan the treatment you need without fear of losing your license.
By the letter of the law, most boards can and do revoke licenses for substance abuse that interferes with your ability to work safely and effectively. But as the understanding of addiction grows, this is becoming a last resort rather than a default.
The Medical Practice Act of 1985 has expanded the rights and options for “impaired professionals” needing psychological or substance abuse help. It creates several options for medical workers dealing with addiction issues.
According to the act, a medical professional who seeks substance abuse treatment and enrolls in an approved program may essentially create a contractual agreement with his or her relevant board.
This agreement may defer the revocation of a medical license so long as the professional complies with the program and shows reasonable improvement. Ultimately, the board may dismiss any corrective action or loss of license so long as the professional shows improvement.
Avoiding negative consequences
One of the best ways to retain your medical license while dealing with addiction is to seek help before it becomes an issue at work. Once your employer or board has intervened, any corrective action is likely to be more severe than had you sought help independently.
Many medical professionals choose to seek anonymous treatment or use medical leave to get time off without disclosing specific details to their employers.