Quoted: Medical Licensing and Mental Health

Discussion in 'Confidential Consult' started by aProgDirector, Jul 23, 2011.

  1. aProgDirector

    aProgDirector Pastafarians Unite!
    Moderator Verified Expert 10+ Year Member

    Oct 11, 2006
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    Attending Physician
    I'm not going to readily agree with your initial assumption -- that you need to disclose any mental health problem to your medical board to get licensed. Each state is different, and hence the rules will be different for each. Since I'm from New England, let's choose Massachusetts to look at since it tends to be seen as one of the "most strict" states in NE to get a license from.

    The questions on the application are these:

    The instructions state:

    So, looking at these rules:

    1. If you take an SSRI for depression, or if you get counseling regularly, as long as it doesn't affect your ability to practice medicine, doesn't need to be reported.
    2. If you hear voices telling you to kill people, even if you're on medication which keeps it under control, you should probably report that.
    3. Between those two extremes, there's a lot of gray area. Whether or not to report will depend on how old the problem is, whether it required a leave of absence, and whether it affected your training.

    To answer your questions:

    1. You are not required to release your records. You need to explain what the problem was and what was done about it. It's possible that the board will request more information, and then you'll need to balance your need for privacy against the board's need for information.

    2. The board can request that you meet with them in person. Some boards do this all the time, some very rarely.

    3. Only if you're impaired

    4. No, not that I know of.
  2. nitemagi

    nitemagi Senior Member
    Physician Faculty 10+ Year Member

    Oct 15, 2001
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    Attending Physician
    I would just be aware of the risk of a situation being reported by a third party to the board, particularly if you haven't disclosed it previously. It's an interesting and gray area, and a big issue within all of medical practice as fear of disclosure often leads to avoiding getting treatment.

    This can be an issue in credentialing as well. But I'd agree with aPD, they usually ask not whether you have a mental disorder/illness, but whether you have a mental disorder that impairs your ability to practice. Which is a self-assessment. I've never seen an actual disclosure in our state medical board newsletter about the actual illness, but there's an occasional "medical illness that impairs their ability to practice."

    If you're worried, can always consult a lawyer.
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