Learn more about the Iowa Physician Health Program’s process for referrals, self-reporting, evaluations, treatment recommendations, and more below. If you have further questions about our process, please contact our staff.
Who Makes Referrals to the IPHP?
The IPHP receives referrals from individuals in a variety of roles:
Licensed Physicians or Applicants for Licensure—Can self-report on their own. They can call or email IPHP staff or complete the self-report form.
Licensure Division of the Board—Initial and renewal applications are referred to the IPHP if there is an indication on the individual’s application of monitoring by another state’s PHP, alcohol-related arrests, or a health issue affecting their ability to practice medicine.
Enforcement Division of the Board—The IPHP reviews all complaints that come in against a physician each week to see if any of the complaints received might have an impairment-related allegation. If so, the board will refer the information to the IPHP to make contact with the physician. The IPHP also looks to see if any complaints are received on current or past participants of the program.
Board of Medicine—After an investigation is complete, the ten-member board of the Iowa Board of Medicine reviews the case to determine if any action needs to be taken. One of the Board’s recommendations may be to refer the individual’s case to the IPHP.
Employers—Can call or send in a letter to the board, which then is referred to IPHP.
Colleagues—Physicians are mandatory reporters and have an obligation to report a colleague to the board if the individual is unable to practice medicine safely due to an impairment. Reporting information to the IPHP satisfies your mandatory reporter obligation. If you report an individual to us, your identity remains anonymous.
What Happens After You Self-Report?
When we receive a self-report, we are looking to see if there is a risk for patient harm or harm to the physician. If a risk exists, the IPHP can ask a physician to stop practicing until a determination is made on their fitness for duty. These decisions are made in conjunction with physicians on the Iowa Physician Health Committee and the program’s assistant attorney general.
After a self-report is received, we will contact the physician to set up a time to visit about the reason for their self-report. These interviews are usually done over the phone and last approximately 30 minutes. During the interview, staff will gather more details, including current or past treatment, current or past concerns with health, major life events, triggers that cause a worsening of symptoms, employment, hobbies, family, etc.
After the interview, we review the situation with the chair of the Iowa Physician Health Committee (IPHC, a committee appointed by the Board overseeing IPHP) to determine if an evaluation is needed. If the physician has already completed an evaluation or has already established care with a provider(s), we will obtain a copy of the evaluation and/or information from your provider(s) to help determine if further review or evaluation is needed.
If an evaluation is needed, we’ll provide you with a list of providers for you to consider using for the evaluation.
The IPHP does not provide treatment. We rely on providers to determine treatment recommendations. When we receive information from providers or an evaluation summary, we review the recommendation from the providers on what level of care or treatment is needed.
Determination of Eligibility
Once we receive information from providers or evaluations, the IPHP reviews it to determine if there is an impairment that could affect the physician’s ability to practice medicine safely. If there is no indication of an impairment, staff will proceed with the process of closing out the case. If an impairment is noted, then staff proceeds with drafting a contract that will allow for participation in the program.
When it is determined that monitoring is needed, we will draft a contract that identifies the treatment recommendations from an evaluation and/or providers. The contract is designed to identify what the individual needs to better their health so that it does not impact the physician’s ability to practice medicine safely. It is not a one-size-fits-all approach, but rather is tailored to the individual’s specific needs.
Monitoring & Advocacy
The purpose of monitoring is to ensure that the physician is following through with the treatment needed to better their health and to ensure their safety to practice medicine is not compromised.
If a physician is offered a contract to allow for participation in the program, the contract will identify what services are needed to support the physician and ensure public safety.
Our staff will receive reports from the physician and members of their treatment team on a quarterly basis or during a time of concern. These reports are reviewed for compliance with the contract requirements. We will also modify the contract requirements if there is a recommendation for a change in services. Usually, services decrease over time.
Our staff members will also make contact with participants periodically to see how things are going.
Program participants will meet annually with either the Iowa Physician Health Committee (IPHC) or IPHP staff. These meetings are used to visit with the physician about how they are doing.
During the course of monitoring, the IPHP receives and reviews information regarding a physician’s compliance with their contract. If requested, the IPHP can write a supportive letter verifying a physician’s compliance. Physicians can share this letter with those that need information about their participation in our program.
What happens if a physician does not comply with their contract?
Participants are responsible for notifying IPHP staff when there is an instance of noncompliance. Significant issues of noncompliance are reviewed with the IPHC. The IPHC will determine if the participant has been noncompliant. If so, the IPHC will determine if the noncompliance rises to the level where corrective action should be taken.