Wellbeing Committees Important To Patient Safety

Many doctors don’t understand that success rates for treatment of addiction are equal to, and often higher, than success rates of other medical disorders. If you’re a professional under monitoring, your success rate [for recovery] can be up in the 90th percentile. With diabetes, you might achieve 25 to 33 percent,” according to Michael Fishman, MD, a nationally recognized expert in addiction treatment.

Substance abuse in health care providers is not a topic often recognized or discussed by the general population. USA Today reviewed state and federal records and identified hundreds of cases in the past few years in which physicians and other health care practitioners were disciplined or prosecuted for misconduct related to substance abuse. The problem is real and hospitals and medical groups are dealing with the issue on a regular basis.

Physicians struggling with substance abuse problems typically do not seek help due to fear of career-ending consequences. Many hospitals have Wellbeing Committees designed to offer structured support to physicians who have been identified, or who have self-identified, as having drug and/or alcohol problems.

These committees offer important benefits to medical personnel as alternatives to discipline can be used, when appropriate. Patient safety is improved by early intervention and monitoring and physicians can successfully return to caring for their patients.