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Referral Process

Home > Foundation > Physicians Health Program > Referral Process

The PHP receives referrals from diverse sources such as colleagues, associates, family members, friends, hospitals, insurance companies, managed care organizations, patients, partners, state boards, and physicians who self-refer. Regardless of the referral source, the same general process of assessment, advocacy and/or enrollment in the PHP applies to most cases.

How to Help

The PHP is available to aid any physician whose health or effectiveness might be impaired by substance abuse, mental health or behavioral disorders.

If you are concerned about a physician and are not sure what to do, call the PHP for assistance from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday at (866) 747-2255 or at (717) 558-7819. The office is open on Fridays for emergencies only. The emergency line number is (717) 558-7817. All communication is confidential.

What Happens When You Call

When you call, you will be asked for details of the problem and contact information of others who are familiar with the problem. If the case is self-referred, a PHP staff member will gather all vital information from the physician, such as name, address, practice status, and a brief history related to his or her problem. Every effort is made to ensure confidentiality and to reassure the referral sources that the PHP's goal is to assist the physician in obtaining appropriate evaluation and treatment.

How Does the PHP Respond?

Once the PHP receives a referral, it is handled in the following manner with modifications made on a case-by-case basis:

Data Collection:The medical director and staff will consider the details furnished by the caller and will request that he or she ask other concerned parties to call. Staff might contact volunteers for help to conduct interviews and gather information. If sufficient details are present to indicate that the physician might be impaired, the PHP will contact the physician to encourage appropriate assessment and treatment.

Assessment & Treatment Plan: If the physician agrees to seek help, the PHP will arrange for a clinical assessment. A qualified professional experienced with impaired physicians will perform an assessment. If an impairing condition is diagnosed, the PHP, working with the evaluating physician and other sources, will develop an individualized treatment plan.

Monitoring Agreement: After assessment and treatment, the PHP staff develops a personalized monitoring agreement and reviews it with the physician. If he or she agrees to enter the program, the physician will then sign a five-year monitoring agreement. Under this plan, the physician will be required to adhere to the terms of the initial treatment plan; undergo routine urine monitoring; participate in individual and group therapy, if required; ensure reports from a workplace monitor; contact the PHP staff monthly to discuss recovery status; contact (usually weekly) his or her local PHP monitor; attend a 12 Step program; and identify people who might play a role in the physician's recovery, (personal physician, attorney, family members, partners, and hospital affiliates). Over the five-year span, the PHP makes amendments to the agreement as needed.

Advocacy

Throughout a physician's recovery, the PHP will document all recovery activities, and if requested, provide periodic reports on a physician's behalf to designated parties, a practice partner, state medical board, a hospital, medical staff, employer, or credentialing organization. PHP staff will not disclose information without the participant's written permission.

Noncompliance or Relapse

When a physician enrolled in the program relapses or fails to comply with the terms of the agreement, the PHP attempts to help the physician re-establish compliance and stable recovery.

The PHP will refer the participant to an evaluator for an updated assessment.  The PHP will use recommendations from the evaluation to determine any changes needed to the treatment or monitoring agreement.

If PHP staff believe a noncompliant physician represents a danger to patients, they will consider submitting a report to the appropriate hospital, health care organization, or licensing board.