The Iowa Physician Health Program, as a program for physicians struggling with mental health or substance abuse, also serves as a resource for the employers of physicians. If you’re an employer of physicians, it’s obviously of top importance that your employees are practicing their jobs safely and effectively. If you have concerns about an employee’s safety on the job and suspect they may be struggling with a substance use or mental health issue, IPHP can help.
How Do I Refer a Physician to the IPHP?
If you have a physician who is impaired at work, you can contact the Board of Medicine directly, or you can reach out to the staff at IPHP. When an employer reports concerns to the Board of Medicine about an impaired or potentially impaired physician, that referral is passed onto the IPHP. If you reach out directly to our staff, we will contact the physician to offer our support and encourage them to self-report. This begins the process of determining their fitness for duty.
However, if disciplinary action has been taken by a hospital against the concerned individual, the hospital administrator or chief of medical staff is obligated to report that action to the Iowa Board of Medicine. You can review the full list of a licensees' duty to report at the Iowa Board of Medicine’s website. Feel free to call us today if you have concerns about a physician.
What Happens After I Refer an Employee?
After you refer an employee to the IPHP, we will make contact with the physician and encourage them to self-report so we can review their situation. Once they self-report, the IPHP can ask the physician to stop practicing until a determination has been made about their ability to practice safely. This decision is made by the physicians on the Iowa Physician Health Committee (IPHC) and our program’s assistant attorney general when there is a risk for patient harm or harm to the physician.
Our staff will interview the physician who has been referred to discuss the circumstances leading to their referral. IPHP staff will then review the situation with the chair of the IPHC to decide if an evaluation is needed. If so, IPHP staff will provide the physician with a list of providers that can be used for evaluation. Those providers will meet with the physician and report their evaluation summaries to IPHP staff. From there, eligibility for the physician to participate in IPHP will be determined and if they are eligible, they will sign a contract detailing the treatment tailored to their particular situation that they agree to complete.
After a contract is signed, our staff will monitor a physician’s compliance with the recommended treatment. The IPHP is not able to communicate with employers about their physician’s participation in the program, even with a signed release. The IPHP can provide letters of compliance to the physician to provide to those that need an update on their status in the program.