Commentary in 1973 the american medical association defined the impaired physician as one who is unable to fulfill professional and personal responsibilities because of a psychiatric illness . Physician impairment is a public health issue that affects not just physicians but their families colleagues and patients in this context impairment means a physical mental or substance related disorder that interferes with a physicians ability to undertake professional activities competently and safely 2. The impaired physician focus on substance abuse michael j reichgott md phd associate dean for clinical affairs and gme albert einstein college of medicine surrender and monitoring physicians and physicians assistants placed on probation as a result of disciplinary action. A concrete strategy can help an impaired physician accept that action is needed and available 3 if the physician rejects all assistance there may be a need to contact the licensing authorities the hospitals or facilities where the physician practices or even the police in order to protect patients as well as the impaired practitioner. Synonymous with impairment physician illness and impairment exist on a continuum with illness typically predating impairment often by many years this is a critically important distinction illness is the existence of a disease impairment is a functional classification and implies the inability of the person affected by disease to perform
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