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January 1, 1988

Impairment vs Disability

Author Affiliations

Rochester (NY) Occupational Center

Rochester (NY) Occupational Center

JAMA. 1988;259(1):43. doi:10.1001/jama.1988.03720010023018

To the Editor.  —In discussing an article in the June 5, 1987, issue entitled "The Physically Disabled Physician,"1 Dr Young2 raises concerns about grouping that article with ones on impaired physicians.He appears to be using "disabled" to mean physically disabled. He then tries to draw a distinction between that group and physicians impaired by drug or alcohol abuse. I can certainly understand his concern and would echo the importance of recognizing the different social and treatment issues that this distinction raises.On the other hand, I do believe that this represents a misunderstanding of the terms involved.In the American Medical Association's Guide to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment (second edition),3 on page x of the foreword, the difference between impairment and disability is highlighted:The physician who makes a determination about impairment must keep in mind that a permanent impairment rating is not the same