Vote To End Doctor Rehab Program Will Be Reviewed
The Medical Board of California will convene later this year to decide whether to uphold its decision to abolish a diversion program for physicians with substance abuse problems, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports (Hasemyer, San Diego Union-Tribune, 8/5).
The board will determine whether any regulatory agency can operate a drug and alcohol diversion program effectively or whether an outside group should be hired. About 250 physicians currently participate in the program (California Healthline, 8/1).
If California abolishes the program without finding an alternative, it would be the only state in the nation without a diversion program for physicians (San Diego Union-Tribune, 8/5).
The board in July voted to phase out the program by June 2008, citing deficiencies in how the program is administered. The program allows physicians to retain their license if they complete a five-year course.
The board also directed its staff to no longer admit physicians to the program and to develop a transition plan.
The program was faulted in a June state audit for inconsistently monitoring participants, finding that more than one in four drug tests was not performed as randomly scheduled.
The audit also found that the program does not always require physicians to immediately stop practicing after testing positive for drugs or alcohol (California Healthline, 8/1).