What Are the Risks for Physician Suicide?

Nov 14, 2014 - Articles by

The November 2014 edition of the Newsletter of the Missouri Physician’s Health Program highlights a recent Vanderbilt study on physician suicide risk.

“[The] recent study done by Vanderbilt University of 141 Tennessee physicians evaluated for fitness-for-duty assessments found an “astoundingly” high rate of suicide if the physician was 1) found unfit to practice, 2) was in solo practice, or 3) if he/she was taking benzodiazepines (anti-anxiety drugs).”

Associate Professor of Clinical Psychiatry and Medical Director of the Vanderbilt Comprehensive Assessment Program, Reid Finlayson, M.D., said, “Being found unfit for practice means a loss of income, loss of social contact and loss of social status. It’s very distressing.”

As distressing as being found unfit for practice can be, many physicians often have some security in the form of a disability insurance policy. Having such a policy to assist a physician with their income often allows them to focus on the issues that led to an unfit for practice finding. By being able to work towards getting back into a position to resume practicing without having to worry about their finances, physicians are better able to take care of themselves, and regain social contact and social status.