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Substance use disorders in physicians: Epidemiology, clinical manifestations, identification, and engagement

Authors
Lisa J Merlo, PhD, MPE
Scott A Teitelbaum, MD
Kenneth Thompson, MD
Section Editor
Richard Saitz, MD, MPH, FACP, DFASAM
Deputy Editor
Richard Hermann, MD

INTRODUCTION

Misuse of alcohol or other drugs (including prescription drugs) may lead to impairment of a physician’s ability to practice medicine proficiently, putting patients at risk of harm. Substance misuse and substance use disorders (SUDs) in physicians have thus been subject to considerable clinical and regulatory attention. Physicians with SUDs have long been described in the United States (US) and other countries as "impaired physicians," a term that is also applied to physicians with psychiatric, cognitive, behavioral, or general medical problems with potential to adversely affect the physician’s ability to perform specific duties.

Most of the published data on this subject are limited to physicians in the US, where treatment of physicians with SUDs is typically overseen by a physician health program (PHP). Much of the information may be relevant to other types of clinicians [1,2] and other countries where these problems have received attention [3-12]. PHPs in the US provide coordination, monitoring, and expertise in the care of impaired physicians (and other healthcare professionals) [13], which when combined with treatment of the person’s substance use disorder, have generally led to high rates of sustained remission and return to medical practice [14-19].

This topic addresses the epidemiology, clinical manifestations, identification, and engagement of physicians with SUDs. The assessment and treatment of physicians with SUDs are discussed separately. Prescription drug misuse and continuing care for addiction are also discussed separately. The epidemiology, pathogenesis, clinical manifestations, assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of specific SUDs are also discussed separately.

See related topics:

(See "Substance use disorders in physicians: Assessment and treatment".)

                

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Literature review current through: Nov 2016. | This topic last updated: Fri Feb 19 00:00:00 GMT 2016.
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