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May 16, 1980

An Epidemic of Suicide Among Physicians on Probation

JAMA. 1980;243(19):1915-1917. doi:10.1001/jama.1980.03300450029016

IN 1976, the members of the Oregon Board of Medical Examiners grew uneasy with the incidence of suicide among the physicians they had placed under close examination and probation. Since its inception in 1889, the board has acted through its power of licensure as the primary force regulating the medical profession in the state of Oregon. The board is composed of eight members who represent a cross section of the geographic distribution of physicians in the state. Board members are generally appointed by the governor from a list, proposed by the Oregon Medical Association, of physicians who are recognized and respected in their communities.

The disciplinary mode of the board is expressed in its powers of probation. When a physician in Oregon is found culpable of professional misconduct of sufficient weight to merit probation, his license to practice is suspended and immediately reinstated, generally for a probationary period of ten