PA Physician Talks to USA Today about Drug Addicted Medical Workers

A USA TODAY review shows more than 100,000 physicians, nurses, medical technicians, and health care aides are abusing or dependent on prescription drugs in a given year.

Jon Shapiro, MD, medical director of the Foundation of Pennsylvania Medical Society’s Physicians’ Health Program (PHP) and a Pennsylvania Medical Society (PAMED) member, was recently interviewed by USA TODAY on the issue of health care workers’ accessibility and addiction to drugs.

The article said, “Many addiction specialists and policymakers believe the more immediate way to address the medical community’s drug problem is to give practitioners better education on preventing addiction and spotting potential impairment in colleagues.”

“The message we need out there is … we can treat these people and get them healthy,” Shapiro said in the article.”

The PHP ensures physicians have the supportive resources and tools to stay healthy so they can continue providing health care for others. The program can provide education and information to physicians, students, and health care organizations about addiction, mental health, stress, and burnout. It can also assist hospitals and hospital-physician committees on impairment policies and as other questions arise.

Stopping prescription drug abuse across Pennsylvania is a key initiative for PAMED. We are:

  • Supporting legislation that would create a controlled substances database
  • Offering tools to physicians such as a series of six of six webinars designed to educate physicians on long-acting and extended-release opioids and a new checklist to help physicians talk to their patients about pain management
  • Convening a task force of its Specialty Leadership Cabinet to review opioid prescription guidelines and make recommendations to the PAMED Board
  • Engaged in the work of Gov. Corbett’s task force on state-sponsored opioid prescribing guidelines for chronic, non-cancer pain