June 8, 2010
Doctors suffer in secret from a wide range of physical and mental health problems including addiction, according to the findings of a new health program in the United Kingdom.
The Practitioner Health Program (PHP) was set up in response to concerns that health professionals were self-medicating or avoiding treatment for serious health problems, out of fear of being stigmatized if they visited a colleague for help. The program provides confidential health services, and so far has been judged a success.
“From the number of patients accessing PHP during its first year, it’s clear there is a need for this highly specialized service,” said England’s chief medical officer, Sir Liam Donaldson.
“This has been a real eye-opener,” said PHP medical director Clare Gerada. “I thought at first we’d see a bit of stress and burn-out. But it soon became apparent how troubled some of these doctors and dentists were. I’ve been surprised at the degree and extent of substance misuse that we’ve seen.”
Of 184 patients treated in the program’s first year, 36 percent suffered from some form of addiction.
“We are seeing every drug under the sun,” Gerada said. “Ketamine, methadrone, amphetamines, heroin, every drug you have ever heard of is coming through the door.”
More than 80 percent of those treated for addiction by the PHP have recovered, in contrast with the 10 percent success rate in the general population.
Sixty-two percent of PHP patients treated suffered from mental health problems, including six previously undiagnosed cases of psychosis.
Two patients were reported to the General Medical Council out of fear that they might harm patients, and six others were encouraged to self-report. Five doctors temporarily ceased practicing upon recommendation from the PHP.
“They’re not the easiest patients in the world — and behind them are patients who could potentially be harmed,” Gerada said.
The types of professionals most commonly seeking treatment were psychiatrists, pediatricians and anesthetists.
Sources for this story include: www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthne… news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/8488192.stm.
This article was posted: Tuesday, June 8, 2010 at 4:52 am