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September 25, 2017
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General

FAQs applicable to all of our web site visitors.

The Georgia Professionals Health Program (Georgia PHP, Inc.) is a nonprofit organization formed in 2012 to assist all licensees of the Georgia Composite Board of Medical Examiners who develop substance abuse and other addictive disorders. We are not, per se, a treatment organization. Rather, we provide initial triage, referral into treatment, treatment quality monitoring, and long-term care for addiction disorders and their related problems. The Georgia Professionals Health Program was made possible by state law passed in 2010. The law provides for a structured relationship between the medical board and the activities of the Georgia PHP. We are not a licensing or sanctioning body. We see our mission as helping healthcare providers Georgia to remain healthy and in doing so, to improve the health of all citizens of our state. We do not obtain any funding from state government or agencies. The majority of our funding comes from participant fees. We are also pursuing grant funding from benevolent benefactors in those groups who benefit from our services.

A professionals health program (PHP) has many functions. The overall goal of any PHP is to help healthcare providers with mental health and substance abuse problems obtain the care they need and, in doing so, to improve their safety to the public. The Georgia PHP has a charter with the Georgia Composite Board of Medical Examiners to care for physicians, physician’s assistants, and respiratory therapists who are licensed by that board. Our current agreement is that we will manage patients who have substance related disorders.

Often individuals who have substance related disorders suffer from marital strife, depression, burnout, and other psychiatric, mental health and physical illnesses. The Georgia PHP oversees all of these related problems in individuals who have substance disorders.

In the past, when a Georgia physician or physician’s assistant developed an addiction disorder, the medical board mandated that such individuals report themselves to the board. This was an effort to ensure safety to the public. Research is shown that the vast majority of substance abusing health-care professionals do not risk public safety. However, the Georgia Medical Board wisely chose to act in the interest of public safety.

A professionals health program changes this process. If individuals who develop substance abuse disorder are identified early in their course, they can be referred for confidential treatment. The professionals health program then goes on to monitor the care of the chronic disease of addiction.

The Georgia PHP has five specific activities:

  1. To receive information from many sources about individuals who may be having difficulties with substance abuse disorders and its related conditions.
  2. To refer such individuals into a properly structured evaluation and/or treatment if indicated.
  3. To monitor the initial treatment and assist the healthcare professional builder safe plan for their return to work.
  4. To manage the chronic nature of addictive disorders in healthcare professionals through drug screen monitoring, self-help group attendance, psychotherapy as needed, and in general health and wellness.
  5. To educate hospitals, third-party payers, malpractice insurance carriers, licensing agencies, specialty boards and all other healthcare professionals across the state about its work in ensuring public safety. We also provide education to the general public.

In a larger sense, the professionals health program builds a community of support that ensures the health and wellness of healthcare professionals across our state.

The Georgia Professionals Health Program follows the guidelines established by the Federation of State Physician Health Programs (FSPHP) regarding communication with hospitals and other healthcare agencies. As such, we provide quarterly letters that attest to a participants compliance with the Georgia PHP. For confidentiality reasons, we do not re-release the results of urine drug screens, evaluations, or psychotherapy.

We do require that all of our participants signed releases for your institution prior to us communicating with you. If the Georgia PHP has an emergent concern about one of our participants we will take steps to assert public safety. Because we have a signed release for you, we will communicate this concern as soon as is practical.

If you your spouse or loved one has entered inpatient residential or outpatient treatment for substance abuse or psychiatric disorder that includes the abuse of addictive substances, you do not need to contact the Georgia Medical Board. By contacting the Georgia PHP, you are able to keep treatment confidential and at the same time protect your Georgia medical license.

As long as you or your loved one is maintained in a PHP-approved treatment process, you do not need to make a subsequent report to the Georgia board. If your case becomes known to the Georgia board at some later date (because a colleague or other concerned individual calls the board), the medical board may contact us at the Georgia PHP. We will then, in turn, but you know about this contact and reassure the Georgia medical board of your (or your loved ones) compliance with treatment. Only in rare cases will the Georgia Medical Board need to know about your situation.

If you are concerned about the mental health of a colleague, please contact us via email or by phone. Now the Georgia has its own professionals health program, you can assist your colleague in obtaining confidential care. The staff of the Georgia PHP regularly receives intake calls about professionals who may be in trouble. Each case is handled uniquely, based on clinical need. Some cases require a direct referral into an assessment or even treatment. Other cases may benefit from gathering additional data about your colleague’s situation. Doing nothing when you have a concern is not a good approach. And now, thanks to the confidential Georgia PHP program, humane and definitive care is available to Georgia providers.

The Georgia PHP can direct you in obtaining additional information and in ways of helping assist a colleague to obtain needed care. We also can help you protect your hospital or practice while investigating your concerns.

If you are a physician in Georgia and have been charged in a DUI or other substance related event, it is in your best interest to contact the Georgia PHP. You will need to report this information to the medical board and having us at your side guiding the proper response to this event is critical.

Please refer to other areas of this website and contact us for additional information.

The Georgia PHP, like all professionals health programs, is not a treatment provider per se. Instead, we provide initial triage, referral, and treatment quality management. We carefully select providers who perform the actual treatment. This is the case for our assessors, our initial treatment programs, the urine screen process, as well as ongoing needed psychotherapy. In many ways a PHP is like an employee assistance program whose goal it is to increase the health by managing chronic disease care.