As a follow-up from last week, CSAP submitted a letter in opposition to the California Medical Board of California (MBC) regarding their proposed regulations to reestablish the Diversion Program, echoing suggestions of the California Medical Association, which includes the following concerns:
- Title of the program: the suggestion is that they change it if possible or add a disclaimer clarifying the program only handles substance use disorder and does not treat or address mental health conditions.
- Cost concerns: for physicians required to participate in the program as a result of discipline, waive cost recovery for physicians who successfully complete the program. This may not incentivize the use of the program since it would be a condition of probation, but it would lower the barrier to reentry to normal practice for physicians who have taken meaningful steps toward recovery.
- Add language to section 1357.14 to require audits to be available to the public and participants in the program.
- Add language to section 1357.9 requiring participants to be notified when it receive a request for their records.
There are at least two other states, Massachusetts and New Hampshire, that have physician health organizations (Physcians Health Services, Inc. and New Hampshire Professional Health Program) associated with their medical associations, that oversee the rehabilitation of impaired physicians. Also, the Federation of State Physician Health Programs (FSPHP) is a national, nonprofit corporation whose mission is “to support physician health programs in improving the health of medical professionals, thereby contributing to quality patient care.” For more information and FAQs, see here. CSAP will continue to explore programs that are restorative rather than punitive and advocate in California for a different paradigm.
FYI, the California Society of Addiction Medicine (CSAM) has also shared a draft comment letter on the draft regulations.