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December 17, 1982

The Impaired Physician: Four Years After Probation

JAMA. 1982;248(23):3127-3130. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03330230039028

IN RECENT years, increased interest and attention have been focused on problems of emotionally impaired physicians. In response to concern for the impaired physician who is under formal probation, the Oregon Board of Medical Examiners initiated an evaluation of the rehabilitation programs for probationers with substance-use disorders and psychiatric illness. This article reports on the evaluation of these rehabilitation programs and addresses several questions concerning the effectiveness of rehabilitation efforts with impaired physicians. Those questions include the following: What are the problem types and risk groups of physicians who are on probation with the State Board of Medical Examiners for a psychiatric disorder? Is there a predictable course for the physician's illness? What is the physician's response to treatment? What is the preferred treatment plan for each major problem?

In 1972, the American Medical Association's Council on Mental Health published its report on "The Sick Physician."1 This initiated an