On November 14, the Ohio Academy of Family Physicians and other physician organizations met with members and staff of the State Medical Board of Ohio (SMBO) on proposed rules to create a non-disciplinary, confidential monitoring program that allows licensees with mental or physical illnesses, other than substance use disorders, to be monitored by the SMBO without being subjected to formal public disciplinary action. The program, as proposed by the SMBO will be entirely within the SMBO’s investigative process and overseen by the SMBO Secretary and Supervising Member.
If the proposed confidential monitoring program is created, as proposed by the SMBO, there would be three possible results should the SMBO receive a complaint alleging that an applicant or licensee is unable to safely practice due to mental or physician illness, excluding substance use disorders. The three possibilities are:
• The complaint is closed after review, with no public disclosure
• The individual is entered into the confidential monitoring program, with no public disclosure
• Formal disciplinary action against the individual is proposed, with the action being publicly disclosed.
The physician organizations stated that the development of such a program is a positive, much needed step, but that the organizations have the following concerns:
• The program is offered based on diagnosis or condition and not conduct
• Is not truly confidential as reporting is to the SMBO
• Could aggravate existing mental or physician health conditions
• Lacks adequate due process
• Conveys that psychiatric disorders are predominantly deteriorating in nature.
With the prevalence of physician burnout, stress, and other mental health challenges, physician organizations want to eliminate any deterrents that might discourage physicians from seeking help at the earliest possible time.
The SMBO promised to review the feedback provided during the meeting prior to submitting final rules for SMBO approval. It was implied that given the current make-up of the SMBO, the only option available may be one with no revisions.