Does the public know who is in the IPHP?
A physician’s participation in the Iowa Physician Health Program (IPHP) is confidential to the public as long as the participant is in compliance with program requirements. The public does not have access to information that identifies participants in the program, except in those few cases where a participant has formal disciplinary charges filed by the Board of Medicine (Board), including charges for noncompliance with an IPHP contract.
Does the Board of Medicine know who is in the IPHP?
The 10-member Board may learn of the physician’s participation in the program, or information regarding a program participant may be released to the Board, for many reasons, including:
Participant is referred or ordered by the Board to participate in the IPHP
Participant is not compliant with the IPHP contract and is referred by the Iowa Physician Health Committee to the Board
The Board receives and must investigate a complaint that participant is in violation of administrative rules or statues that are not related to the participant’s impairment
The Board needs to determine, when reviewing a complaint involving a participant that is related to an impairment, that the participant is in compliance with the IPHP contract
Participant’s medical practice poses a significant risk to the public
Who administers the IPHP?
The IPHP is administered by the Iowa Physician Health Committee, a eight-member committee appointed by the Board. Staff members of the Board manage the program within the parameters established by 653 Iowa Administrative Code Chapter 14.
What happens when my spouse or loved one self reports?
Chances are good that you are experiencing anxiety as a result of your loved one’s recent self report to the IPHP. Please be reassured that the IPHP was established in 1996 to be a support for physicians struggling with impairment issues related to substance abuse, mental health issues, or physical disability; we are not a disciplinary program. The IPHP considers a physician’s self report to be a positive first step toward bringing a potentially harmful situation under control before one’s professional reputation is damaged.
We want to reassure you that your family is not alone in facing this issue; it is estimated that thirty percent of the physician population will deal with impairment at some point in their careers. It has been our experience that physicians have an excellent track record in handling their impairment issues once they ask for help. You will be surprised by the amount of support you will receive from the medical community once your spouse decides to address his or her problem proactively.
You are probably worried about what will happen once your loved one has self reported. The IPHP will gather information about your spouse’s situation and make referrals for evaluation, if needed. The IPHP then works with the physician to get needed supports in place to insure they are able to continue to practice safely. The majority of physicians participating in our program are actively practicing.
The IPHP is aware this can be a very frightening and stressful time for physicians and their families. We encourage you to be supportive of each other and ask for help if you need it. Individual or family counseling may be helpful during this time. Al-Anon is also a great support for families dealing with substance abuse. You may obtain information from the organization’s website at http://www.al-anon.alateen.org/ or by calling 757-563-1600.
We know physicians do better when their families are stable. If there is anything we can do to be of assistance, please feel free to call 515-281-6491 for more information.