Our healthcare and business law firm works with many physicians in Georgia who are facing mental health and substance abuse difficulties. Sometimes those difficulties bleed into work and can cause work and/or licensure issues. Georgia offers an incredible resource dedicated to physician recovery in a way that protects Georgia citizens and minimizes career concerns for the physician—the Georgia Professional Health Program (“PHP”). This post provides 3 Facts about the Georgia PHP. If you are experiencing or are concerned about ramifications of a potential addiction or mental health disorder, in addition to seeking medical help, we recommend contacting an experienced attorney who can assist you through this difficult process and help minimize potential licensure and career impacts. If you have questions regarding this blog post or would like to speak with counsel regarding physician licensure, you may contact us at (404) 685-1662 (Atlanta) or (706) 722-7886 (Augusta), or by email, email@example.com. You may also learn more about our law firm by visiting www.hamillittle.com.
- The Georgia PHP was started in 2012
The Georgia PHP “is a nonprofit organization formed in 2012 to assist all licensees of the Georgia Composite Board of Medical Examiners and in 2022 the Georgia Board of Veterinary Medicine who develop potentially impairing conditions, mental illnesses, substance abuse and other addictive disorders.” The Georgia PHP does not provide treatment, but, rather, conducts an initial triage, refers to in patient or outpatient treatment (if appropriate), and monitors the quality of the treatment. The Georgia PHP’s #1 goal is to protect Georgia citizens. It’s #2 goal is to advocate for Georgia physicians.
- It’s not just for addiction
Although the discussion around the Georgia PHP centers on addiction treatment, it is also for physicians suffering from mental health disorders. The majority of the information and resources available through its webpage focus on addiction recovery, but the Georgia PHP is also available to physicians (and veterinarians) who suffer from behavioral disorders, including suicide.
- Enrolling can help with Medical Board concerns
As discussed in a previous blog post, in February of 2023, the Medical Board updated the mental health/substance abuse question on licensure applications to the following:
“Are you currently suffering from any condition for which you are not being appropriately treated that impairs your judgment or that would otherwise adversely affect your ability to practice medicine in a competent, ethical, and professional manner? NOTE: If you are currently enrolled in Georgia PHP, you may answer NO.”
As such, by enrolling in the program and staying compliant, you can answer “no” to this question. Even apart from the application, if a physician is compliant and enrolled in the PHP and the Medical Board learns of a potential substance abuse or behavioral issue, the Medical Board may call the PHP, to which the PHP will generally respond that the physician is in their care and not a concern. This can be very comforting for physicians who, like many, face mental, behavioral, and addiction difficulties at some time during their careers.
There may be options outside of the PHP that work better for you, and we are happy to discuss those with you. If you have questions regarding this blog post or would like to speak with counsel regarding becoming licensed in Georgia, you may contact us at (404) 685-1662 (Atlanta) or (706) 722-7886 (Augusta), or by email, firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also learn more about our law firm by visiting www.hamillittle.com.
*Disclaimer: Thoughts shared here do not constitute legal advice.