Helping physicians and the medical community for more than 30 years.
History and Philosophy
“It is a physician’s ethical responsibility to take cognizance of a colleague’s inability to practice medicine by reason of physical or mental illness, including alcoholism or drug dependence…Accountability to the public through assurance of competent care to patients by physicians and other health professionals is a paramount responsibility of organized medicine.” -AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION, 1973
In 1978, MedChi, the Maryland State Medical Society established a committee of physicians who volunteered their time and services to assist colleagues in need. Funding was later obtained through physician license fees which allowed the hiring of staff and a formal program structure to be put in place for assisting physicians. The Physician Health Committee continues to meet to provide clinical consultation for cases, discuss trends, outcomes and issues concerning physician impairment, identify issues of concern, and make recommendations to MedChi regarding advocacy. The Maryland Physician Health Program is administered by the Center for a Healthy Maryland, a 501c3 charitable organization and affiliate of MedChi.
The Maryland Physician Health Program is not affiliated with the Maryland Board of Physicians. The Program meets HIPAA compliance standards. Federal and state laws ensure the confidentiality of practitioners referred to the Program. Program records are non-discoverable and confidential to the extent covered by law. Exceptions to confidentiality include evidence of imminent harm to self or others through good-faith assessment by program staff, medical emergencies, court-ordered disclosures, and the State of Maryland mandated reporting requirements regarding child abuse and neglect.
- In 1973, the AMA Council on Mental Health published a landmark study, The Sick Physician, estimating that 3.2 percent of physicians suffer from alcoholism, 2 percent from drug abuse, and 1.3 percent from other mental disorders.
- An impaired physician is one whose ability to practice medicine, with reasonable skill and safety, is impaired because of mental illness, substance or physical disability. –The American Medical Association, 1973
- More recent data estimates that 12 to 16 percent of physicians suffer from alcoholism, drug abuse or emotional or mental disorders, a rate similar to the general population.
Types of Concerns
The types of concerns encountered by the MPHP include:
- Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
- Chemical dependency
- Mental or emotional health
- Physical and cognitive impairment
- Behavioral issues
- Legal issues
- Sexual misconduct/boundary
Accessing The Program
Physicians and other practitioners licensed by the Maryland Board of Physicians experiencing problems can voluntarily contact the program by calling 410-962-5580 or 800-992-7010. Concerned colleagues or family members may also contact the program at the number above; the confidentiality of the referring individual will be honored upon request. Other referral sources include co-workers, hospital administrators, credentialing committees, therapists and other treatment providers.
Who May Use the Program?
The services of the Maryland Physician Health Program are available to practitioners licensed by the Maryland Board of Physicians, regardless of their affiliation with the Maryland State Medical Society.
Initial Consultation, Assessment and Referral
When a referral is made to the MPHP, the participant is invited for an initial consultation with program staff, including the Clinical Manager. This meeting provides an opportunity for open and honest communication regarding the presenting problem in order to review the situation and begin the evaluation process. If appropriate, the participant will be referred for an independent evaluation. If the evaluator identifies a need for treatment, the participant will be referred for treatment and enrolled in the program.
A participant with a verified problem typically enters into a five-year contract with the MPHP that allows for active monitoring of the participant’s progress. The contract encompasses the participant’s treatment plan, incorporating recommendations made by the evaluator. The case manager will monitor the participants’ progress with treatment, vocational status, and if appropriate, the participant will undergo random toxicology screening.
Support and Advocacy
The scope of client advocacy involves providing reports to involved parties on behalf of the participant regarding their status with the program and their compliance, and progress with their treatment plan. Advocacy reports are sent with the permission and at the request of a participant to organizations such as the Maryland Board of Physicians, malpractice carriers, specialty boards, hospital or credentialing committees, and various legal entities.
When a participant successfully completes the requirements established in the contract and is in stabilized recovery, the MPHP Medical Director will review the case and the work of the MPHP is concluded. Participants may choose to sign additional contracts for as long as support and monitoring are desired or needed.
The MPHP can help hospitals meet Joint Commission requirements by providing information on physician impairment at Medical Staff meetings or Grand Rounds. A fifteen minute overview of MPHP services and a one hour CME lecture on physician impairment may be scheduled by contacting the MPHP Operations Manager, Michael Llufrio or by calling 410-962-5580 extension 5412.
The MPHP is financed through hospital and participant fees and donations. MPHP staff conducts an initial meeting with new participants. There is a $500 administrative fee for opening a case. Participants may be requested to undergo independent evaluations and/or treatment. In such cases, the participant may choose to access personal insurance plans, or pay out of pocket for any recommended evaluations, therapies or treatments, as well as toxicology screening (where allowed by the insurance plan). There is a monthly fee of $90 for case management services which commence upon a participant’s signing an advocacy contract. At that time monitoring begins and advocacy when warranted is available.
Important Forms to Bring With You along with an updated CV.
The following forms are for use after beginning program and do not need to be filled out beforehand.
If you wish to make a referral, please call 410-962-5580 or 800-992-7010 or e-mail Michael Llufrio.
To make a tax-deductible contribution to the Maryland Physician Health Program, please complete the donation form. Donations may be made payable to the Center for a Healthy Maryland and mailed to:
The Maryland Physician Health Program
1202 Maryland Avenue, 2nd Fl.
Baltimore, MD 21201-5512
Phone: 410-962-5580 or 800-992-7010
Arthur Hildredth, M.D.
Medical Director, Physician Health Program
Chae Kwak, LCSW-C
Laura Berg, LCSW-C
Director of Operations
Senior Clinical Manager
410.962.5580, x 5416
Astrid Richardson-Ashley, LGSW
410.962.5580, x 5417
410.962.5580, x 5413