Sharing Concerns about the Pandemic's Impact on Physician Well-Being in Ohio
OSMA & Medical Association Coalition (MAC) send letter to the Medical Board—specifically asking for several action steps
Physician well-being has been a significant concern over the past several years, and the COVID-19 pandemic has now created many additional challenges—regardless of whether a private practice setting or a large hospital system. In response to these challenges, several medical associations in Ohio came together to ask the State Medical Board of Ohio (SMBO) to take action to support its licensees.
The Medical Association Coalition, sent a letter to the SMBO for its consideration. Specifically asking for several action steps:
- Swift action to promote the health, well-being, and resilience of Ohio’s healthcare professionals to ensure recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic as well as its damaging impact on the medical community. The MAC believes that a multi-faceted approach is necessary to improve the environment for Ohio’s healthcare professionals, creating a culture that is supportive of seeking mental health treatment, without stigma or repercussion.
- Review the current initial and renewal applications with hopes that the applications will be further aligned with the recommendations made by the Federation of State Medical Board's (FSMB) Policy on Wellness and Burnout. Among other criteria, the FSMB recommends considering language such as, “are you currently suffering from any condition for which you are not being appropriately treated that impairs your judgment or that would otherwise adversely affect your ability to practice medicine in a competent, ethical and professional manner.” Additionally, asking the SMBO to review whether these applications ensure that appropriate differentiation is made between the illness with which a physician has been diagnosed and the impairments that may result.
- Consider exploring changes that would limit the personal health information of licensees related to an illness or diagnosis that is disclosed publicly as part of a SMBO’s disciplinary process. As recommended by the FSMB, information disclosed should relate only to impairment of professional abilities, medical malpractice, and professional misconduct.
- Consider establishing a new confidential non-disciplinary program, or amending the existing program established through Ohio Administrative Code 4731-28, to allow for the confidential treatment and monitoring of mental health disorders and other conditions impacting a practitioner’s health and well-being.
At its September meeting held earlier this week, the SMBO acknowledged receipt of the communication and committed to address these concerns moving forward. The OSMA and MAC were encouraged by this response and look forward to continuing the dialogue. This provides yet another example of the impact physicians can have when we join together in Ohio to advocate for the profession.
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