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Supporting Licensees with Substance Abuse and Mental Health Disorders

The foremost mission of the Oregon Medical Board (Board) is the protection of Oregon’s citizens from the practice of medicine by unqualified, incompetent or impaired medical providers. Secondarily, the Board supports its licensees in remaining in or returning to the safe practice of medicine. The Board participates in the Health Professionals’ Services Program (HPSP), a rehabilitation and monitoring program for licensees with substance abuse or mental health disorders. HPSP was established in July 2010 as a statewide, confidential resource; it is the successor to the Health Professionals Program (HPP), which was in place for the preceding 20 years.

Licensees who participate in treatment and monitoring are very often successful in returning to safe and productive practice. Experience in Oregon and nationally indicates that anything short of this standard of comprehensive monitoring leads to a markedly higher failure rate.
 
The Board encourages licensees to attend to any substance use or mental health diagnosis and has adopted the following referral policy regarding the HPSP monitoring program.

Self-referral: Licensees may participate in HPSP through a “self-referral” if there has been no impact on patient care and no impairment in the workplace or in the licensee’s ability to practice. Voluntary HPSP participants require no further action relative to licensure, and they will not be reported to the Board so long as they successfully engage in the program.

Board referral: Licensees may be referred to HPSP by the Board through an investigation or through the license application process when the licensee has a substance use or mental health diagnosis that does or may impair the ability to practice safely. Licensees who have been impaired in the workplace or while scheduled to work (including on call) are referred to HPSP through the investigative and disciplinary process.1 If the Board believes a licensee is not safe to practice without monitoring through HPSP, and if the licensee chooses not to participate in or comply with the terms of the HPSP agreement, the licensee will be subject to denial of licensure or discipline, up to and including suspension or revocation of licensure.2

The Board recognizes that self-referral is vastly superior to disciplinary action. Early identification and treatment – prior to impairment – is the obvious preference. All licensees and their organizations are encouraged to promote early intervention. When the Board refers a licensee to HPSP through the disciplinary process, it is often possible for the licensee to return to practice as soon as they are successfully participating in the program and they have been deemed safe to practice by an appropriate health care provider.

The Board strives to assure licensees with a substance use or mental health diagnosis that their future success is one of the Board’s goals. Substance use or mental health conditions do not have to destroy a professional’s career, personal life, or professional standing. With proper treatment and follow-up, licensees can continue the successful practice of their medical profession.

-Adopted 2007
-Revised October 2010
-Revised April 2020

 

1. State law requires that all impaired licensees be reported to the Board (ORS 676.150).
2. Medical Practice Act violations are enumerated in ORS 677.190.




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