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LifeGuard Fitness for Duty Assessment for Physicians

There are times where a healthcare organization or practice partners will have concerns regarding patient safety due to a physician's physical or cognitive health. These dilemmas are complex as it is never easy to share with a physician that there may be concerns about their fitness to practice medicine in their current practice environment because of aging or accident-related developments:

  • A physician is involved in an automobile accident and suffers extensive injuries.  
  • On the way to work a physician slips on the ice and a head injury occurs.
  • Central tremors begin to emerge that interfere with the provision of care in an emergency room.

While the physician may physically recover and be medically cleared or managed, at times the safety of a patient may still be compromised and this is when a physician fitness for duty examination can be a resource.

LifeGuard's Fitness for Duty Assessment provides an independent measurement of a physician's physical as well as cognitive status. Components include objective measurement of fine motor skills, physical and cognitive functioning, and more.

How Does the Physician Fitness for Duty Evaluation Work?

The LifeGuard Fitness for Duty evaluation for physicians is an unbiased, independent assessment conducted by a multi-disciplinary team. We gather a multitude of information specific to the physician and the reason for the referral.

The physician fitness for duty assessment is designed to provide information regarding a physician's ability to perform his or her duties as they relate to their practice. The physician fitness for duty assessment consists of a comprehensive physical examination related to the ability to perform duties specific to the physician's specialty, a neuro-cognitive assessment and a functional capacity evaluation to get the most accurate picture possible. If more testing is needed, the LifeGuard director will note this in his or her final report.

A thorough neurocognitive evaluation is performed to assess executive and neurocognitive functioning.   The physician examination and functional capacity evaluation are designed to evaluate whether the physician has the physical capacity, dexterity, motor skills and coordination needed to perform the procedures and evaluations that are most pertinent to his or her duties.

Even when assessment findings indicate a change in ability to practice, LifeGuard works extensively with the referral source to identify and suggest modifications in practice that allow the physician to function at their highest level of skill and at the same time ensure patient safety.

Warning Signs a Physician Physical and/or Cognitive Fit for Duty Assessment Is Needed

There are several signs a doctor will typically display that can indicate the need for a physician fitness for duty assessment. The earlier these signs are detected, the better the chance the physician will get the necessary assistance to ensure the quality of medical care provided and the safety of patients. While the appearance of a particular sign does not itself indicate a problem, a combination of them will typically indicate that an issue exists.

For example, tremors while completing a surgical procedure and failure to chart appropriately or forgetfulness of the process to manage a patient within a practice may indicate that a fitness for duty assessment may be appropriate.

At LifeGuard, we have a great deal of experience performing physician fitness for duty evaluations and know how sensitive this type of situation can be. All of our staff members are committed to providing trustworthy, objective assessments while treating physicians with complete respect. Our goals are to improve the safety of patients, enhance the quality of care they receive and serve as a resource for healthcare organizations and physicians who may need assistance.

If you would like to learn more about the LifeGuard Fitness for Duty Assessment or any of our other offerings, please give us a call at (717) 909-2590 or contact us online.