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History of PHS

More than 20 years ago, a group of physicians got together on an ad hoc basis to offer support to colleagues in crisis. In response to what was viewed as a critical need, this ad hoc group formed the Impaired Physician’s Committee. Its charter was to address physician health issues. More specifically, the Committee sought to help prevent problems, identify colleagues in trouble, refer them for treatment, and monitor their recovery.

Before long, there were 30 members of this free-standing committee of the Massachusetts Medical Society -- all of them volunteers. In the mid-1980s, the committee changed its name and became the Physician Health Committee. In part, this move was made because doctors who got help from the committee -- and recovered -- could no longer be considered “impaired,” although they continued to be involved on a follow-up basis with counseling, support groups, or other activities. In addition, despite problems of substance use and addiction, only a small fraction of physicians were actually professionally impaired, as this is usually the last area in one’s life that is affected by this illness.

The increasing number of referrals and the demand for more sophisticated monitoring resulted in the Society’s development of these services in the early 90s. In 1993, Physician Health Services (PHS) was incorporated as a nonprofit subsidiary of the Massachusetts Medical Society. Since then, PHS has been able to receive charitable contributions. When all the major malpractice carriers and the captive insurers agreed to provide level funding to support PHS, a full time staff was hired and services were enhanced. At the same time, the Medical Society sponsored legislation, which was later signed into law, conferring peer-review protection on the work PHS does. This is important because it now means we can assure confidentiality to anyone who comes to PHS for help.

Since then, the number of referrals to PHS has increased to the point where we now have a staff that includes a director, a director of operations, an attorney, five associate directors who are based in various locations across Massachusetts, and three administrative staff. All outreach, education, support, and monitoring services are available throughout the state.

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The 23rd PHS Annual Dinner Gathering, originally scheduled for May 6, 2020, will be postponed and rescheduled for a later date in 2020 due to the current COVID-19 healthcare crisis. PHS looks forward to seeing everyone and will send an announcement once a new date has been determined. Please contact 781-434-7404 if you have questions. Thank you for all you do.

As you may know, the Board of Registration in Medicine has enacted new regulations for Massachusetts licensed physicians.  Please be assured that PHS continues to provide confidential consultation and assistance, without change, to MA physicians, medical students, and medical leaders. Please feel free to call PHS (781-434-7404) with any questions. 

- August 14, 2019

Donate 10-25-2018
Med Prof Empowerment Program 2018

2019 Annual Report

In Honor Of

Michael Palmer, MD

The Michael Palmer, MD Medical Student Health Lecture Series

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