Psychiatric Assessments for Disruptive Physicians Poses A Risk for Non-Impaired Doctors
Joint Commission Standards for physicians make a clear distinction between “disruptive physicians” psychiatrically impaired physicians, substance abusers and/or sexual abusers. Unfortunately, some resources for “disruptive physicians” demand that all participants undergo a formal psychiatric examination including projective tests.
While assessments for all of the above issues may be necessary, the psychiatric examinations should be limited to suspected cases of nervous or mental disorders rather than anger management. Anger is not listed as a DSM-IV Diagnostic Disorder. According to the American Psychiatric Association, anger is a lifestyle issue and is therefore not responsive to psychotherapy or psychiatric intervention.
A mandated psychiatric assessment places inappropriately referred physicians at risk of being entered into the National Practitioner Data Bank. Once a physician is listed in this data bank, it is almost impossible to get any information removed.
Unfortunately, the stigma against mental illness continues to exist and can damage the career of any physician. Physicians ordered to attend Coaching for Anger Management should insist on a program that is not psychiatrically based. Intervention programs that require psychiatric examinations should be avoided at all costs.
George Anderson, MSW, BCD, CAMF