Nine physician organizations, including the Ohio Academy of Family Physicians, continue to meet to prepare for the introduction of legislation by the State Medical Board of Ohio (SMBO) to make revisions to the one-bite rule. The OAFP hosted another meeting on this topic on August 25.
- Examination at an approved treatment provider
- If diagnosed with impairment, the individual completes treatment in accordance with SMBO requirements; and
- The individual has not violated SMBO statutes or rules, other than those relating to impairment.
This provision is commonly referred to as the one-bite exemption.
The SMBO asked Representative Robert Sprague (R-Findlay, OH) to have legislation drafted that would change the one-bite exemption so that the name of the physician would be made known to SMBO staff and the SMBO would meet, review, and decide whether the specific situation would be eligible for the one-bite exemption. This would have a chilling effect on licensees seeking timely treatment.
It is the position of the OAFP and the other participating organizations that physicians should be encouraged to seek help for addiction or mental health issues at the earliest possible time. Delayed treatment is potentially more detrimental to interests of the public, than is addressing the problem early on and in confidence. We want to ensure that the SMBO views one-bite as help for physicians who need it rather than discipline for bad behavior.
Retired Ohio Supreme Court Justice Eve Stratton is working on this issue with the physician organizations and the Ohio Physicians Health Program. She is a well-known, well-respected expert on addiction and mental health treatment issues and their application to impairment situations with attorneys.
The group has made a good faith effort to work with the SMBO on this issue but it appears that the SMBO intends to move forward with introduction of legislation regardless of our efforts. We would have preferred to negotiate these matters prior to introduction of legislation but it looks like we will be forced to make our case during the legislative process once the legislation is introduced.