Mandated Reporting - Obligations to Consider

In Massachusetts, the law mandates reporting to the BRM when there is a reasonable basis to believe that a physician is practicing medicine while impaired by drugs or alcohol, or when a physician is a habitual user of drugs or alcohol. In addition, there is an exception to the mandated reporting law which, in certain circumstances, allows a reporter to refer the physician to PHS instead of reporting to the BRM. You might consider consulting with an attorney of your own, or your workplace attorney, to decide whether the mandated reporting law or its exception applies to your fact situation. PHS can provide you with information regarding the law and its exception, but PHS cannot help you make this determination.

If the exception applies, you can refer the physician directly to PHS. If the exception does not apply, you must report to the BRM Physician Health and Compliance Unit, but at the same time you can also refer to PHS. (For information regarding how to make a report to the BRM, and potential outcomes of such a report, please contact the BRM directly.)

Whenever you have a concern about a physician, please call PHS as early as possible.

Early intervention provides the best opportunity to assist physicians directly, and to ultimately protect the interests of patients.

Things to consider when referring to PHS, or reporting a colleague to the BRM:

  • If you are making a referral to PHS under the exception to the mandated reporting law, please specify this at the time of referral. PHS will then be alerted that the referring party will be seeking confirmation of the physician's participation in PHS within 30 days.
  • Simply making a referral to PHS under the exception to the mandated reporting law is not enough. If a physician who is referred to PHS under this provision does not contact PHS, or is not cooperative with the recommendations of PHS within the designated time frame, you may still need to follow through with a report to the BRM.
  • If you do not hear from PHS within the 30 days, you should contact PHS directly. Because of the confidentiality laws that govern the work of PHS, PHS cannot speak with any third party, even a referring party, about a physician, unless PHS obtains a signed written release to do so. If PHS is aware that a referral has been made in accordance with the exception to the mandated reporting law, PHS will seek a release to communicate with the referral source. If you call, and PHS informs you that it cannot speak with you, then you must assume that you cannot fulfill the requirements of the exception to the mandated reporting law, and you may need to make your report to the BRM.

Remember to call PHS as early as possible in this process to consult with professionals experienced with intervention, the mandated reporting law and its exception.

Mandated Reporting - Exceptions

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