The Federation of State Physician Advocacy Groups (FSPAG) was founded in late 2007 as an independent physician-run alternative to the Federation of State Physician Health Programs (FSPHP). The FSPHP is an independent nonprofit corporation which controls the vast majority of standard "Physician Health Programs" (PHP's) operated by medical licensing boards in all 50 states. Also known as "diversion programs", PHP's were originally designed to provide a therapeutic avenue for physicians with "chemical dependency" (alcoholism and drug addictions) to access confidential treatment with protection from professional investigation and/or disciplinary action. Many PHP's have gradually expanded their missions to include monitoring and treatment management for physicians with mental illness, and some are now expanding even further to encompass monitoring and treatment management for all physicians with possible "diseases of impairment" (defined as alcohol and drug use disorders, psychiatric disorders, disruptive disorders, psychosexual disorders, metabolic disorders, and physical disorders -- including diabetes, hypertension, and asthma). These increasingly broad missions have not changed the fact that the majority of state PHP's are still run by medical directors who are qualified only in "addiction medicine" and have supervisory committees largely staffed by addiction specialists and members of the general public who are "in recovery" from various addictions and who need not be physicians at all.
FSPAG has become very concerned that the dysfunctional culture and bureaucratic structure of many FSPHP member organizations are increasingly harming the very physicians that they were originally designed to help. Both voluntary and involuntary enrollment in these PHP's can ultimately injure, disable and even kill allegedly impaired physicians -- in part through misdiagnosis, mistreatment, and mismanagement of their various medical problems by unqualified professionals, uncaring bureaucrats, and uninformed committees -- in part by reporting allegedly "noncompliant" physicians to their state licensing boards for professional investigation and/or disciplinary action (often resulting in public orders for license suspension or revokation, without meaningful due process protections and without any real opportunity for appeal) -- and in part by driving them into isolation and despair through systematic humiliation, defamation, loss of privacy, and loss of autonomy. As individual FSPAG physicians, we know these abuses are happening because each of our lives and our careers have been irreversibly damaged by this Kafkaesque system.
We believe that the health and safety of the Oregon public depends in part on maintaining the health and safety of its caregivers. FSPAG is striving to promote individual physician health and well-being by providing a completely anonymous forum for confidential networking, community-building, discussion and exchange of ideas for self-protection and self-advocacy on behalf of physicians who may potentially become impaired by substance abuse, physical or mental illness, or disability. The primary goal of FSPAG is to help physicians learn to heal ourselves and each other. We understand that physicians sometimes get sick too, and that just like other patients they need safe, supportive, and private access to quality healthcare resources of their own choosing, without risk of punishment or public disclosure just for seeking professional help. We know that many physicians with serious personal health problems actually avoid getting the help they need because of their tragically realistic fears of prejudice, humiliation, bullying, coercion, and other outright abuses by their medical licensing boards and state physician health programs. These abuses (and avoiding care due to fear of being subjected to these abuses) definitely contribute to many physicians' reluctance to seek care and likely contribute to some physician suicides. Avoiding care can also result in physicians continuing to practice medicine while impaired by treatable personal health problems.
Medical resources for improving the personal health and legal resources for protecting the civil rights of potentially impaired and disabled Oregon physicians (including the rights to privacy and due process) will also be shared and discussed in this forum. When the website is completed, the confidentiality of all participants will be strictly enforced.
Legal resources for improving the personal health and protecting the civil rights of potentially impaired and disabled physicians (including the rights to privacy and due process) will also be shared and discussed in this forum. When the website is completed, the confidentiality of all participants will be strictly enforced.
This group (and this website) are still under construction. This website was last updated on 12/14/2013.