Scientific Studies

How are addicted physicians treated? A national survey of physician health programs


 

Summary: Physicians with substance use disorders receive care that is qualitatively different from and reputedly more effective than that offered to the general population, yet there has been no national study of this distinctive approach. Physicians are treated at facilities for 60-90 days and then follow a plan of random urine testing for usually 5 or more years.

Setting the standard for recovery: Physicians’ Health Programs


 

Summary: 904 physicians were studied for 5 years or longer to explore programs that were effective against relapse. A 12-step program by Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous was implemented along with a 5-year period of intensive monitoring, which led to 78% of participants having no positive tests over the 5-year period.

Impaired healthcare professional


 

Summary: 10-15% of healthcare professionals will misuse drugs or alcohol at some point in their careers. There are programs that were designed for these physicians specifically, which are now becoming more available to the general public. These methods and programs have higher success rates than most other programs.

Five year outcomes in a cohort study of physicians treated for substance use disorders in the United States


 

Summary: 904 participants, later reduced to 802, were tested using a program that combined direct help from a facility and then a 5-year monitoring program through urine testing. Three quarters (75%) of the physicians passed the 5-year period with no relapse and 81% had no identified substance misuse at any time.

Anesthesiologists with Substance Use Disorders: A 5-Year Outcome Study from 16 State Physician Health Programs


 

Summary: Many believe that anesthesiologists have higher substance abuse rates than other physicians. However, this is proven to be untrue in an experiment where 862 participants in a 5-year plus monitoring program with 11.1% of them being anesthesiologists. At the end of the 5-year follow-up period, 71% of anesthesiologists and 64% of non-anesthesiologists had completed their contracts and were no longer required to be monitored. The study found that the proportion of anesthesiologists (76%) continuing their medical practice was not significantly different than that for non-anesthesiologists (73%). This was all thanks to the two-part program of facility care, then a 5-year span of intensive monitoring to prevent relapse.

Prognosis for the Recovery of Surgeons From Chemical Dependency


 

Summary: In a study of 904 physicians with substance abuse problems, it was found that surgeons were much more likely to enroll in rehab programs because of alcohol-related problems, rather than drug problems. However, after the 5 years it was found that the surgeons’ recovery success rate and return to practice rate was not notably different than non-surgeons. It was also found that “physicians enrolled in a PHP for monitoring of an SUD have abstinence rates ranging from 75% to 90% during the 5 years following chemical dependency treatment, which are markedly greater than rates among the general population of individuals in recovery”.

Prognosis for Emergency Physician with Substance Abuse Recovery: 5-year Outcome Study


 

Summary: Within a study of 904 physicians with substance abuse problems, emergency physicians were specifically observed to see if there was any notable difference in their recovery success rate as compared with the rest of the non-emergency physicians. It was found that 75%-90% of physicians enrolled in the 5-year PHPs pass with little to no problem. Emergency physicians were found to have an 84% success rate, which is not notably different than the rest of the group.

Psychiatrists With Substance Use Disorders: Positive Treatment Outcomes From Physician Health Programs


 

Summary: Within a study of 904 physicians with substance abuse problems, psychiatrists were specifically observed to see if there was any notable difference in their recovery success rate as compared with the rest of the non-psychiatrists. It was found that 75%-90% of physicians enrolled in the 5-year PHPs pass with little to no problem. Psychiatrists were found to have a 75% success rate, which is not notably different than the rest of the group.

Outcomes of a Monitoring Program for Physicians with Mental and Behavioral Health Problems


 

Summary: In a study of 120 physicians, 75% completed the 5-year program successfully while only 8% relapsed, the other 17% did not complete for other reasons.

Curbside Consultation: Dealing with the Impaired Physician – American Family Physician


 

Summary: Physicians tend to have higher substance abuse rates than non-physicians, particularly benzodiazepines and opioids, because of their easy access and ability to self-prescribe. When these physicians are enrolled in a 5-year PHP program, success rates are extremely high as seen in this New Jersey PHP study: “A nine-­year study of physicians in the New Jersey PHP reported a recovery rate of 83.8 percent, with no relapses at the end of two years. Including those who had one relapse (13.8 percent), the success rate was 97.6 percent.”