Mandatory notification of impaired doctors
Mandatory reporting of impaired doctors is compulsory in Australasia. Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency guidelines for notification claim high benchmark though the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons and the Royal Australasian College of Physicians suggest they still obstruct doctors seeking help. Western Australia excludes mandatory reporting of practitioner-patients. This study examines reporting, consequences and international experiences with notification. Depressed doctors avoid diagnosis and treatment, fearing consequences, yet are more prone to marital problems, substance dependence and needing psychotherapy. South African research confirms isolation of impaired doctors and delayed seeking help with definable characteristics of those at risk. New Zealand data acknowledge: errors occur; questionable contribution from mandatory reporting; issues concerning competence assessment; favouring reporting to senior colleagues or self-intervention to compliance with mandatory reporting. UK found an anaesthetist guilty of professional misconduct for not reporting and sanctioned doctors regarding Harold Shipman. Australians are reluctant to report, fearing legalistic intrusion into care. Australian research confirmed definable characteristics for doctors with psychiatric illness or alcohol abuse. Exposure to legal medicine evokes personal disenchantment for doctors involved. Medicine poses barriers for impaired doctors. Spanish and UK doctors do not use general practitioners and may have suboptimal care. US and European doctors self-medicate using samples. US drug-dependent doctors also prescribe for spouses. Junior doctors are losing empathy with the profession. UK doctors favour private care, avoiding public scrutiny. NZ and Brazil created specific services for doctors, which appear effective. Mandatory reporting may be counterproductive requiring reappraisal.
Internal Medicine Journal
Medical and Health Sciences not elsewhere classified