3 US Senators Demand DOJ Investigate Medical Boards

An attorney just notified me of this letter submitted to the Department of Justice citing my 2019 journal article documenting widespread mental health discrimination by medical boards. Read letter below or download original document with citations here. If you’ve ever been harmed by a medical board (or PHP), please contact Dr. Wible. You could be instrumental in ending mental health discrimination against physicians.

* * *

Dear Attorney General Merrick Garland, Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clark, and Disability Rights Section Chief Rebecca Bond:

I write to encourage the Department of Justice (DOJ) to extend its investigations of offenses under the American Disabilities Act (ADA) to include the practices of state medical license boards. Many of these boards ask physicians about their mental health and substance use or addiction history, beyond what is necessary to fulfill the purpose of screening physicians for current, debilitating cases of mental illness and substance use or abuse. These questions both discourage many applicants and licensed physicians from receiving care that they need, and they violate Title II of the ADA, which forbids public entities from discriminating against qualified individuals on the basis of disabilities, including mental health conditions. I know that you share my goals of protecting health privacy, encouraging a robust medical workforce, promoting mental health care, and enforcing the ADA, and so I write to ask you to prioritize this concern by issuing DOJ guidance and holding state medical boards accountable.

States oversee the qualifications of their physicians as part of the power to protect the health, safety, and welfare of its citizenry, but some of the questions that many state medical boards ask of physicians on their initial licensure exams and renewals are, according to the American Psychiatric Association, the American Medical Association, and the Federation of State Medical Boards, irrelevant to assessing current ability to practice. In fact, several peer-reviewed journal articles estimate that two-thirds of state medical boards violate Title II of the ADA with personal, taxing, and unnecessarily broad questions about doctors’ psychiatric history. The repercussions are not just a matter of law, but they also inform the practices of hospitals, health plans, and malpractice insurance companies, and impact the medical well-being of physicians.

A 2019 study looked at initial medical licensing processes in all states to determine if qualified applicants who report mental illness experience discrimination and to identify the most physician-friendly states for mental health.

The authors ranked Alaska as the worst of all states when it came to invasiveness of mental health questions on initial licensing applications with 25 yes-or-no questions including:

“Have you ever been diagnosed with, treated for, or do you currently have: followed by a list of 14 mental health conditions including depression, seasonal affective disorder, and “any condition requiring chronic medical or behavioral treatment.”

The District of Columbia asks two questions, both unrestricted in time and the second “broad and subjective given that one anonymous and unsubstantiated complaint can lead to a physician [Physician Health Program] referral and undermine a doctor’s career”:

“Have you ever entered into a monitoring program for purposes of monitoring your abuse of alcohol, drugs, or other controlled substances?”

“Have you ever entered into a monitoring program for purposes of monitoring your professional behavior including recordkeeping, billing, boundaries, quality of care or any other matter related to the practice of your profession?”

Georgia’s application does not directly ask impairment or mental health questions, but requires three separate peer references to answer whether the physician has or had in the past any mental or physical illnesses or personal problems that interfere with their medical practice. “Personal” problems are open to interpretation and there’s no indication that any assertions contained in these references must be substantiated by evidence.

These kinds of questions go far beyond conditions that could impair qualified individuals and may require comprehensive disclosure of one’s medical and professional history.

Even though physicians face an inordinate amount of stress—their burnout rate is 50%, twice the general working population’s level—many avoid seeking mental health support due in part to these questions. In one survey of women physicians experiencing mental health difficulties, 44% of respondents who did not seek treatment cited licensure questions as a reason why. In another survey of surgeons who experienced suicidal thoughts over the previous year, 60% said the questions would make them more reluctant to seek help. Physicians have had one of the highest suicide rates of any profession, and the pandemic has exacerbated suicide risk factors. Troublingly, there have also been reports of unwanted mental health support or assessments as physicians have reported retaliatory inquiries into physical, mental, or emotional health and referrals to impaired practitioner programs.

The DOJ oversees professional licensing bodies and has previously intervened when those bodies violated Title II of the ADA. For example, in 2014, the DOJ advised the Vermont Human Rights Commission about the unlawful nature of questions by state law boards about mental health history. Later that year, the DOJ investigated the Louisiana state law board for questions that violated Title II of the ADA. The DOJ also staked out a similar position in the case of state medical boards, writing in a 1993 amicus curiae brief before the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey that the New Jersey Boards of Medical Examiners’ “focus on past diagnoses and treatment of disabilities rather than conduct that cannot be deemed justified.” Nevertheless, to our knowledge, the DOJ has yet to open an investigation into a state medical board for violating Title II.

I urge the DOJ to investigate state medical boards’ compliance with the ADA. The DOJ should also issue guidance on 28 C.F.R. § 35.130 to clearly state that state medical boards cannot ask inappropriate medical licensing and application questions, especially questions related to mental health history. In the interim, I ask that you provide me with complete answers to the following questions by March 16th, 2023:

    • Does the DOJ have additional information, beyond the scholarship mentioned above, about the extent and different ways state medical boards may be violating Title II of the ADA? If so, please explain what it has learned.

    • Has the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division been engaged on this issue during the last several years? If so, please explain what work they are doing.

    • Does the DOJ stand behind its 1993 amicus curiae brief in Medical Society of New Jersey v. Jacobs? If so, can it commit to publishing a version of it in the form of subregulatory guidance?

    • How will the DOJ ensure that all state medical boards comply with the law and affected applicants or physicians have recourse?

    • Has the DOJ examined similar issues when it comes to residency programs and hospital privileges?

I also ask that you brief my personal office staff members Jenni Katzman and Kevin Wu on these questions.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter.


US Senator Ron Wyden

US Senator Jeffrey A. Merkley

US Senator Cory A. Booker

* * *

Read Dr. Wible’s letter to the DOJ

Submit your own letter using simple DOJ complaint template

Video & commentary on DOJ letter here:

If you’ve been harmed by a medical board (or physician health program), please contact Dr. Wible.

Need help healing after abuse? Join our physician trauma recovery group.
Tags: ,
Add your comment below or scroll down to read 58 comments

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


58 comments on “3 US Senators Demand DOJ Investigate Medical Boards
  1. Emily Shonk Edwards says:

    Wow! Thank you, Pamela!

    I saw this week that Virginia is removing these questions for licensure. All because of your good work all these years.


    • Louise B Andrew MD JD says:

      Please share the current VA licensure questions, if you have them Emily.
      There IS recently passed VA legislation that encourages them to become compliant with ADA, but this often takes months to years. The last published report puts them at a 2 out of a posssible 4 points for compliance.

      Continuous PR hype about recent state legislation is designed to give the impression that this problem is being solved. In VA, DE, IN, SD, NC at least, such legislation is specifically aimed at protecting from discovery and liability, those who work for programs and other entities that claim to work to improve physician health and wellness (including licensure boards!). And all of the states that claim to provide “safe harbor” protections actually do so ONLY to those who are “fully compliant” with their state’s physician health program. Which means you first have to enroll with this program, and then follow to the letter all of their strict requirements, which inevitably includes substance monitoring EVEN if your problem is a pure mental health issue.

      • Pamela Wible MD says:

        A well-orchestrated and premeditated funnel that leads vulnerable doctors (and whistleblowers) into these money-making entities with significant conflict of interest. Safe harbor is not actually very safe according to these docs who have been ensnared by PHPs:

        “I was sued,” reports an emergency physician. “Overwhelmed with grief and fear, I took antidepressants and saw a psychiatrist. I paid cash and considered using a false name. I had already seen the North Carolina Medical Board send a physician to 6 weeks of inpatient alcohol treatment due to a complaint without any proof he was drinking. That saved his license but he owed an astronomical bill.”

        “PHPs remain largely non-compliant with ADA laws and regulatory guidelines in assessing medical and psychiatric fitness of physicians,” reports an occupational medicine specialist. They receive revenue from contracts with physician employers and residency programs plus referred medical students/physicians who pay costly out-of-pocket fees or risk career destruction. Physician employers liberally refer to PHPs for virtually any reason. PHPs even encourage third-party referrals. Aggrieved spouses, jilted lovers, market competitors have all successfully required PHP evaluations of physicians.”

        “My psychiatrist requested I report to the Georgia Medical Board my inpatient care for a major depressive disorder,” explains one physician. “They stamped a 5-year private consent order on me whereby I had to submit to random urines (though there was no history of substance abuse). If I knew what I would be subjected to over the next 5 years and the expense of hundreds of urines, I would not have fulfilled his request. The toughest challenge was getting through the red tape with hospital privileges when they found out I had been treated for depression. I know dozens of physicians under psychiatric care for depression. They dare not relay such to the Board secondary to what I endured.”

        “After the unexpected death of a patient, I sought counseling. By a stroke of (bad) luck, I picked the only one in town in charge of impaired physician monitoring. He told the board (though stable) I should be ‘monitored.’ I had to defend myself in front of the Florida board. They laughed in my face and then posted in the local newspapers that I was sentenced to 5 yrs of monitoring. I had mandatory Wednesday group therapy. Though I was an exemplary physician, my employers had to be told why I was unavailable for call every Wednesday. Each time I (re)credential with hospitals, I must explain the whole thing again. HIPAA for me does not exist. I have never missed a single day of work for mental health.”

        Of course, most physicians have no idea these entities exist and that they breach their ADA rights until they are trapped inside of these “safe harbors.”

      • Pamela Wible MD says:

        I agree these bureaucrats at med boards can really drag their feet at implementing these actual improved-wording questions. Here is an example from Idaho back in 2019.

        Update from Idaho Board on the status of mental health questions when I inquired WHEN the updates to questions would be made.

        “It turns out that even though the Board approved the changes a while ago, we have been able to make the change only on this past renewal application (which just finished on July 1), but we have not been able to get it changed on the initial licensure application due to a technology issue relating to the Uniform Application at the Federation of State Medical Boards. I won’t bog you down with the details, but the short story is that those questions are embedded on a server that they are no longer updating, and until we are able to switch to their new electronic delivery system of all UAs (via API instead of XML), we will not be able to change those questions…. We will not be able to switch our database to the new API delivery system until our database upgrade is complete. That upgrade has been going on for 2.5 years and was supposed to be complete 1.5 years ago.”

        • Kernan Manion says:

          DOJ told LA Bar in 2014 that ‘we don’t care who wrote the questions – your ADA compliance obligations are non-delegable.’ Fancy term for ‘you ask the question, it’s your responsibility. Willing to be a prompt complaint now to DOJ about their non-compliance, accompanied by this quoted response, will move things along nicely.

  2. AnonDoc says:

    Don’t expect much from current DOJ.
    It’s busy with political witch hunt and transgender bathrooms than doing anything meaningful.

    • Louise B Andrew MD JD says:

      Don’t judge a book by mass media.
      DOJ is huge, and there is specific attention to this issue being given RIGHT NOW by the Office of Civil Rights, Disability Rights Section which is aware of this issue and actively seeking complaints from those who have been harmed. And though they would prefer recent claims, ALL claims could be helpful, as they might establish a pattern or practice that has been going on for years.
      Harms could include being discouraged from seeking mental healthcare, or from pursuing licensure in a given state due to questions about mental health, being subjected to more intensive documentation or examinations than other applicants after answering such questions truthfully, being required to pay for such documentation or examinations if other applicants are not required to produce or undergo them, being denied licensure or full licensure on the basis of a mental health diagnosis, being subjected to substance monitoring for a pure mental health issue, being denied the full range of MOUD if you DO have a SUD, being denied ADA accommodations in taking any testing required for licensure.
      Your complaint doesn’t need to be legally perfect or detailed, but it should be fairly specific, and must include contact information if you hope for anything to come of it. DOJ is not allowed to share these details with anyone, so you needn’t fear discovery or retaliation.

      • Pamela Wible MD says:

        My inbox is full of these complaints right now. Sorting through them & getting more details at the moment. Planning to meet up with many of the injured physicians on Sunday 6 pm ET via Zoom to begin a process of strategic support, look for themes, and to get these complaints lodged properly with the ADA/DOJ.

  3. Janice says:

    My sister feared that seeking help she knew she needed for depression, she would be prohibited from continuing her work as a plastic surgeon. She was not incompetent, just sad after a divorce. I miss her!


    • Louise B Andrew MD JD says:

      This is so sad, Janice. If you can reasonably support that your sister feared seeking help for depression (like Lorna Breen), and if you know why she feared seeking help (e.g. licensure reapplication questions in her state, hearing adverse experiences of other physicians in her state who sought help, a state law that mandates reporting of physician patients with mental health issues, any engagement with a physician health program that was contributory) you could still report her death to the DOJ as a probable result of an untreated depression based on fear of reporting. Obviously there’s not much that they can do, but awareness of the actual (not just theoretical) effects of these pressures on physicians is extremely important.

      • Pamela Wible MD says:

        Good point Louise. I have a LONG list (close to 2,000) of suicide docs and their family members have a LOT to say about the fears they had of admitting their mental health issues prior to suicide.

      • Kernan Manion says:

        Fully agree with Louise. Now that DOJ is asking and Senators are attuned, do file a complaint. Simply write up your narrative as concisely as you’ve done here. Here’s the link: https://www.ada.gov/file-a-complaint/
        The disability rights section of DOJ is specifically looking into harms that have resulted as a result of medical boards’ (and PHPs) abuse of ADA and such hostile and punitive discrimination towards those with any illness.

  4. Corruption says:

    Thanks for sharing…..too much corruption…..and just this morning Dr. John LaPook (CBS) featured the closure of another hospital that was funded in a ‘real estate’ deal by private equity….but he did not look closely enough….long before that hospital became ‘vulnerable’ to hostile takeover by such pariahs, it’s reimbursement compared to other local hospitals was being siphoned off by the insurance companies that denied ‘reimbursement’ for already provided and authorized services…..and the same private equity pariahs come in, place their people in top positions on the hospital board and administration by coercion, bribery and even blackmail or murder (disguised as suicide ….it is a culture of death and destruction) then ‘take over’ the hospital before closing it down…..? thanks for sharing this post…..

  5. IM says:

    ​Thank you Pamela.

    It is about fucking time.

    • Pamela Wible MD says:

      AGREE 100%!!!

      Been working on doctor suicide epidemic since 2012 and human rights violations in medicine since 2014. So a 10-year delay in federal action, yet I am SO GRATEFUL that this letter exists and that our senators (I am from NJ & live in OR) are moving in a direction of supporting the mental health of our physicians.

      I’m an eternal optimist!

  6. Louis B. Cady, MD says:

    YAY!!! Exciting news.

  7. LUAnne says:

    What an amazing letter.
    I hope this gets some attention.
    Thank you for all of your hard work
    And help.


    • Pamela Wible MD says:

      I definitely believe the interest and attention is mounting. We absolutely have garnered more empathy from the public & feds for the plight of our healers who have been traumatized by their exposure to death, illness, suffering of their patients. We so often hold the suffering of the world on our shoulders. Grateful for the attention of our elected officials and DOJ.

  8. California Doc says:

    I was never directly harmed by a medical board, but I was definitely deterred from seeking help when I needed it due to them. It’s great to hear these senators are getting involved. I know doctors who have been working with the resident union CIR to lobby the CA legislature to remove the mental health question from the license app altogether. At least here it only asks about current impairment.

    • Pamela Wible MD says:

      Thanks so much for your transparency and sharing your story. I do think there are stare variations in the way docs are treated. Lots of subjectivity and lack of uniformity.

  9. Donald says:

    Pamela on your Quest for decency and fair consideration in that staid and narrow profession of medicine and surgery, I applaud you and your great ongoing struggle to bring and/or create safe haven. Leigh Taylor Sundem, MD, jumped every of so many loops thrown at her as required yet knew nothing was good enough for the ‘good ol’ boys’. Can/will the Justice Department do something? Can/will they bother? I stay tuned cheering you to victory for life itself and for the profession. In the practice itself how sweet it would be for Attendings and Practitioners to ban lying stealing cheating manipulating against colleagues. Donald

    • Pamela Wible MD says:

      I think of Leigh Sundem often. She made it to the national stage and celebrated for being the poster child of recovery, yet she faced outrageous abuse from WITHIN medicine related to mental health stigma and violation of her human rights.

    • Pamela Wible MD says:

      Dr. Leigh Sundem died by suicide when she was obstructed from practicing medicine due to discrimination related to her drug addiction as a teen. Clean & sober 15 years, she was an advocate for others in recovery, even testifying to congress. With countless awards in med school, Leigh was a phenomenal physician, yet (after 3 years of applying) was never accepted into required residency training. Leigh did not want to die. Unmatched to residency, unemployed with student loans due, she saw no way out. In her suicide note, she asked her family to contact me & gave us instructions to share the truth so her story “goes viral” and starts a REAL conversation about ending the stigma of addiction in medicine. So Please . . .

      More on Leigh Sundem’s plight & suicide here: Dr. Leigh Sundem dies by suicide. Here’s her last request.

  10. Luke Naylor says:

    Way to go Pamela!

  11. Betsy Gall says:

    Thank you so much Pamela for all of your hard work and dedication on this tough, dark topic. As you know, I wrote a book titled The Illusion of the Perfect Profession. It is about my husband Dr. Matthew Gall’s suicide. I take the reader on our life journey with medicine and Matthew’s job as an oncologist. Depression hit Matthew hard and he feared he would lose his medical license if he asked for help. I believe being a doctor killed my husband. Matthew mentioned invasive questions by the medical board, on more than one occasion. I thank you a million times over for raising awareness and fighting a good fight.

  12. Victoria Stockdale says:

    Thank you! I have been advocating for this subject for many years. I was verbally attacked and told personally told, ‘The hospital is a place of business not a place of social services for me and my son.’

    Thank you Dr. Wible

    Victoria Stockdale

  13. Barbara Franklin says:

    Dr. Wible,

    State licensing boards with intrusive questions regarding mental health reminds me of the US Military and how for generations seeking mental health care (from other than ‘the Chaplain’) could cause one to lose a security clearance and effectively end one’s military career. During the 2000’s in the midst of 2 wars, Iraq and Afghanistan, there was a spike in service members dying by suicide (also veterans and retirees). The Department of Defense pivoted. They realized that mental health care should not be a bar to one’s retaining a security clearance, that the rules prevented service members from getting the help they needed. In fact, they determined that service members getting the mental health care they needed was the better result than avoiding the care to keep the security clearance.

    I’m hopeful that states will realize the same is true for physicians.

    Thank you for all you do to help keep my health care provides safe.

    • Pamela Wible MD says:

      I’ve heard many stories from military physicians and so much of these mental health issues are caused by the very institutions we work for—and then their onsite wellness programs have some gaping holes like lack of confidentiality & privacy.

    • Pamela Wible MD says:

      Yet I DO think we can LEARN from what IS working well in other institutions.

  14. Rakhi Pal says:

    This is such great news. Just imagine how many physicians will be affected positively by this.
    May be they will be allowed to practice again soon.
    Thanks so much for sharing

  15. jeff anglen says:

    Thanks for your work in this area. As a contract physician, I have licenses in 14 states. The questions on licensing applications ( not to mention hospital privileging forms) drive me batshit crazy. Sometimes they are a paragraph long, written in legal jargon, and ask about ancient history that is irrelevant (“have you ever..”). They often are intrusive, judgemental, and irrelevant; hard to understand or interpret , and there are penalties for making an honest mistake in answering – I once had to pay Oregon a $300 fine for checking the wrong box in what was an obvious error. I’m glad to know these questions are also sometimes illegal.
    It would be great if one of our professional organizations would come up with a model set of questions that are simple, clear, fair, relevant, and legal; along with suggested processes for handling the data that protects both the public and rights (and wellness) of physicians.
    Keep up the good work,

    • Kernan Manion says:

      Jeff, It’d be great if you could forward those application questions to Pamela so that we could build up a repository of such and send the entire thing to DOJ. It’s clear the Senators and the DOJ are reaching a threshold of understanding, and that the abuse of physicians’ rights, one of which being ADA, has now reached action potential.

      And … you could also contact US DOJ directly and submit your complaint only. And it appears the head of the Disability Rights Section herself is actively involved in soliciting these diverse states’ violations. I would anticipate that civil penalties might ensue. Finally.

  16. Stephanie Waggel says:

    This is fantastic news Pamela! I’m posting it all over social media and I’m going to tag you!

  17. Joe Lydon says:

    Way to go !!!

    Isn’t it interesting that two to of the three or your Oregon senators?

    The other surprising thing to me — when you make your A to F grading of the various states, is that Washington State came in near the bottom !!

    Strange to us midwesterners because we have a perception (esp because of Seattle) of Washington as being a very progressive, non-punitive, sort of “welcoming, embracing” kind of place. The average doctor would think that the most punitive archane PHP ‘s would be in the “Hang ’em High” states like Texas, Oklahoma, Louisianna,

    Speaking of which — I recall one case from Washington (I think) in particular I saw a few years back in some online medical type of journal)

    The victim was a woman OB/GYN who had come to the attention of the PHP because of allegations of alcohol use. I seem to recall she had come in to do a delivery and “someone smelled alcohol on her”

    She was referred to the PHP, diagnosed with Alcohol dependency, mandated to treatment, and shortly thereafter “made the list” via suicide prior to any intervention.

    I recall the surviving husband (now widower w/children) was particularly livid and was considering bringing a civil case against the PHP? (or maybe it was the actual board of med)

    Any further update or fallout on that situation?

    Thanks !

  18. Resident Rights? says:

    I’m experiencing retaliation in residency due to standing up for patient safety. GME using it against me so the ACGME and their people are literally causing my mental health issues—then using it against me. I’ve not dealt with my state board yet though I have heard nightmare stories about PHPs. A co-resident fears seeking mental health help due to potential career repercussions and getting into fellowship or a state license. THANK YOU for pushing this effort forward. I fear leaving my name here so will be anonymous for now. Residents need outside help dealing with these human rights violations that you describe so well in your writing.

  19. Pamela Wible MD says:

    Just want to share a de-identified personal email I’ve received:

    “I met a lady whose husband committed suicide due to board nonsense. Every absolute power corrupts absolutely, and these board people are not even real judges or trained in legal administration. Ends up collecting some bad personalities in medicine who likes to abuse power. I am glad DOJ is investigating. I know some people who got hazed by board but I am not sure whether they will step forward. They probably have PTSD. I will circulate your email however and see how they respond.”

  20. Pamela Wible MD says:

    CLARIFICATION by DOJ per attorney:

    “I have clarified with DOJ that two years is a somewhat arbitrary cutoff. Of course they cannot do much with a long stale complaint, but just knowing that there is a decades long pattern or practice of discrimination helps add to the big picture. I didn’t ask them about who has standing to complain. Still, I think a dead physician’s family ought to be able to file a relevant complaint, it adds to the picture and to the urgency for DOJ to take some action.”

    To file a complaint: https://www.ada.gov/file-a-complaint/

  21. Debra Fant says:

    So glad to see our Oregon Senators stepping up to bring attention to these issues Pamela and thank you for the work you do to care for your peers and champion their needs in the political arena. I assume that people who are distanced from the life of a medical provider have no way to comprehend how challenging and repeatedly distressing it is to function long-term in those roles of caring for others, nor can many fathom how punitive reviews and the systemic demands on these human beings impacts them and their ability to provide good and reliable care. Is it time for another book like “The House of God” to lay it out to the public, to each other, to systems managers to find some empathy at the least and to make systemic changes to change the expectations? Blessings to you and all you bring to your network of practitioners! Deb/ Waldport

  22. Debra Fant says:

    So glad to see our Oregon Senators stepping up to bring attention to these issues Pamela and thank you for the work you do to care for your peers and champion their needs in the political arena. I assume that people who are distanced from the life of a medical provider have no way to comprehend how challenging and repeatedly distressing it is to function long-term in those roles of caring for others, nor can many fathom how punitive reviews and the systemic demands on these human beings impacts them and their ability to provide good and reliable care. Is it time for another book like “The House of God” to lay it out to the public, to each other, to systems managers to find some empathy at the least and to make systemic changes to change the expectations? Blessings to you and all you bring to your network of practitioners!

  23. Aaron Turk says:

    Dear Dr. Wible,

    Congratulations and thank you for helping to end mental health discrimination with the state medical boards. Your 2019 paper cited in the U.S. Senate letter to the U.S. DOJ is excellent, eloquent, and insightful.

    I hope you’re doing well.

    Thanks again.
    Very respectfully,
    Aaron Turk

  24. Caroline Ahlers, MD says:

    Thank you, Pamela, for all you do for physicians’ mental health.. 😀. I appreciate this information. 👍

  25. Pamela Wible MD says:

    A conversation with sibling of respected surgeon who died by suicide:

    “The issue you point out today affected my brother. He feared that by seeking help he knew he needed, he would be prohibited from continuing his work as a surgeon.”

    Me: “I know fear & actual punishment by med board leads to doctor suicides.”

    “He never got to the point of facing a board. He was depressed, and had been depressed in the past, but he was afraid to seek help.”

    Me: “Many times the fear of having to defend oneself for having mental health conditions (as a result of these stigmatized questions by boards, hospitals, insurance companies) actually prevents or delays the help-seeking.”

  26. Ann Cordum says:

    This is long overdue. Good work Pamela!
    Keep us posted on this.

  27. Anonymous Medicine Resident says:

    Wow. This is huge! I cannot thank you enough for everything you do and stand for. That article you wrote in 2019 is something I frequent often. As a resident who had to take time off during medical school to get life-saving treatment for depression, I feel a constant weight over my head about what states I will/will not be able to practice in based off these medical licensing questions. This has impacted my life and the lives of many other physicians tremendously. I still live in constant fear that any investigation into my mental health history would result in termination of my career.

    • Pamela Wible MD says:

      Please reach out to me here so we can help you file a DOJ complaint. W have started a group just to help docs injured by boards & PHPs to reclaim their rights & get support.

      Every Sunday:

      PHP/Med Board Trauma Recovery (6 pm ET) ~ Have you faced mental health discrimination from your hospital, residency, or med school? Been referred to your state board or forced into a PHP? Get confidential emotional & strategic help from a team of professionals with decades of expertise advocating for physicians. (1.5 hour) Invitation-only. To join, contact Dr. Wible.

  28. Bryan J Treacy MD says:

    You know my story and how I feel about medical boards Dr. Wible. This is long overdue and I hope there is follow through. It is at least a step in the right direction and I’ll be closely watching for developments as this moves forward.

  29. Harald.Larsen Aanning says:

    In 2016 I wrote an opinion column on physicians testifying untruthfully in support of colleague physicians. I included a “confession” that I had done the same in a 1999 malpractice trial – basically because I didn’t want to lose my job. The South Dakota Board of Medical and Osteopathic Examiners (SDBMOE) accused me of perjury, moral turpitude, willing to give lying testimony, and undermining trust in the medical profession. I assumed they had all the evidence and so, at age 78 and retired, I did not go to their adminitsrative hearing in 2017 and simply returned my license. Then I received a letter (2022) from the attorney that stated I was a fact witness and testified truthfully. The SDBMOE never walked back their actions against me. When re-applying for renewal, they simply demanded I spend time with Acumen Assessments in Kansas for clearance to renew my license — an outfit that other physicians have found egregiously conflicted with state boards. recently I found my pre-trial deposition where I’m described as a fact witness and was specifically enjoined not to answer questions on standard of care. However, the SDBMOE’s actions, based on a false memory of an old trial, stand immutable as frozen in the ice of indifference…

  30. Karen Shackelford MD says:

    I have known two fine physicians who committed suicide because of their inability to seek care for depression privately and without censure. One was my neighbor, a beloved cardiologist with three young boys. His partner, another close friend, told me that he had confided his fear of seeking help due to the potential career repercussions. He blew his brains out one Sunday morning, behind a home his family was building in the countryside. The other suicide was a respected pediatric immunologist and an associate dean of my medical school, forced to attend an out of state (Kansas) treatment program for “stress” related to his job – for three months. He told me of his fear that people would suspect why he was not in our hometown and he revealed his shame. He committed suicide in a motel in Manhattan, Kansas just before Christmas. He was in an outpatient program yet was forbidden to see a licensed therapist in our home state as they were not “PHP-approved.”

    • Pamela Wible MD says:

      Any chance you can join us this Sunday? Free session to discuss the DOJ investigation of med boards & PHPs.

  31. Nicci Kochsmeier says:

    I have been directly involved with the Colorado PHP and my life has been forever changed after getting trapped in this PHP system and I would love to hear more about this and get more involved in this process.

  32. jcannon says:

    Thanks for sharing this and I am glad legislators are actually trying to change this discriminatory practice.

    I am sure I speak for many medical professionals who have depression and other mental illnesses that it is very stressful to not be able to freely access mental healthcare. For me, it brings up questions like: am I jeopardizing my patients? Will I be fired? Will I be humiliated in a board newsletter? Will I lose my reputation? I cannot imagine any other field in which someone has to balance getting the bare minimum healthcare for a medical condition with trying to avoid being ‘outed’ by the very licensing board which in a large way regulates everyone’s access to healthcare.

    Shame on these institutions for failing the patients they serve. I hope they – these boards – appreciate the sacrifice licensed providers have and continue to personally make to provide health care to the citizens of each and every state.

Click here to comment



Copyright © 2011-2024 Pamela Wible MD     All rights reserved worldwide     site design by Pamela Wible MD and afinerweb.com