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July 15, 1983

Treatment of Impaired Physicians

Author Affiliations

University of California, San Francisco

JAMA. 1983;250(3):359. doi:10.1001/jama.1983.03340030021012

To the Editor.—  As a physician interested in the issue of impairment in the profession, I would like to comment on a PRELIMINARY COMMUNICATION published on the subject in The Journal (1983;249:226). Few would argue with the positive steps taken by organized medicine to identify and treat the "sick physician." Public and professional attention has resulted in state medical societies developing means to address this all too common phenomenon. As pointed out in the article on the Diversion Program, California has taken steps through legislation to establish an alternative to discipline of the impaired physician.The article highlights the program's success in assisting 109 of 117 physicians in treatment to continue the practice of medicine. Those staying in treatment seem to have good outcomes. This is consistent with what has been reported elsewhere.1-3 But what happens to those beginning but not remaining in treatment? Table 2 in the article