Myth or fact?Medical board should look into mental health history

Physicians and other health care professionals completing the application are often asked about their past history of mental illness and substance use disorders by medical licensing boards, credentialing agencies, and professional liability insurance companies.

But does the Joint Commission and Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB), which accredit hospitals and other health care organizations, require states, hospitals, insurance companies, and others to ask about this history?

The answer is no.

According to a recent study conducted by the AMA through its “Debunking Regulatory Myths” series, “Rather, they ask these types of questions when collecting professional information from clinicians for certification, privilege, or other purposes.” We strongly recommend that you refrain from including

If state medical boards prefer to include questions asking physicians about their mental health to gather information to protect patients, the FSMB advises doing so in the following ways:

  • Limits the query to the current failure.
  • It does not discourage doctors from seeking treatment.
  • Providing a non-reporting option to physicians who avoid public disclosure of their physician’s diagnosis and who are receiving treatment and in good standing with the Accredited Physician’s Health Program (PHP) or other appropriate medical professionals To do.

Reducing physician burnout is a key component of the AMA Recovery Plan for American physicians.

Too many American doctors are experiencing burnout. That’s why AMA is prioritizing health and developing resources that highlight workflow changes to help physicians focus on what matters: caring for their patients.

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How the State Can Help Physicians Receive the Confidential Care They Deserve

Research shows the importance of changing the questions asked about licensing and other applications.

Nearly 40% of physicians are reluctant to seek mental health care, according to survey, due to concerns about impact on medical licenses, despite higher rates of depression, burnout and suicide than the general population is shown to be People in states who did not follow best practices regarding questions about past mental health issues were significantly more likely to report not seeking mental health care.

‚ÄúSince the 2016 survey, many states have changed their licensing questions to align with the recommendations. said Christine Sinsky, MD, AMA’s VP of Professional Satisfaction and co-author of the study.

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Major Credentialing Changes Have Big Benefits for Physician Health

AMA policy, among other things, encourages state licensing boards to require disclosure of only current physical or mental health conditions that would affect a physician’s ability to practice medicine.

State medical boards and other organizations with problematic language are beginning to make changes, with positive steps being taken in Minnesota, Georgia, and Virginia. Henry Ford Health, a member of the AMA Health Systems Program, also recently updated its credential application to focus on current impairments.

According to the AMA, there is still much work to be done in licensing, certification and other areas. AMA is working with Dr. Lorna Breen’s Hero Foundation. For more information, see the Foundation’s toolkit, Remove Intrusive Mental Health Questions from Licensure and Credentialing Applications A Toolkit to Audit, Change and Communicate. This toolkit can be downloaded from your organization’s website.

Find out more in the AMA Debunking Medical Practice Regulatory Myths Learning Series, available on the AMA Ed Hub™, to provide regulatory clarification to physicians and their care teams. Physicians can submit questions and ideas about regulatory myths by emailing our research and policy team.

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