I’m a pilot who has fallen victim to this racket. I read above where you are somewhat familiar with the situation. I would disagree, however, that we are putting up more resistance. We are specifically HIRED for compulsiveness, read follow orders, regardless…. I apparently fell through the cracks.
I’ve been researching false positive biomarker tests for over a year now, have found numerous accounts of doctors actually fighting, nurses trying, but only ONE pilot serious attempt. I know him personally, but did find his case independently. He’s in a pickle as he cannot go to a court because we fall under labor laws requiring arbitration, but cannot grieve via arbitration because of a contract he had to sign waives that right. How in the world could a union, who’s hand and hand in bed with the company and FAA, even signatories to that contract, allow a pilot to waive his rights to already diminished due process?
I was fired over a year ago because of a false positive PeTH test, which was never verified in any way. A single data point. I’m still awaiting my arbitration hearing.
A Delta Pilot, Karlene Petitt, a safety whistleblower and victim of a retaliatory paid for diagnosis which grounded her for over a year, is finally creating a conduit for pilots who have been fired and swept under the rug to finally join forces, because of the media exposure she has gotten.
The ones currently in the program are simply too afraid to speak up at all. I know several people who personally were told to avoid advocating for me as I was being fired. I broke contact with them kind of like you don’t stop to help a stranded woman in LA for fear of scaring her to death…. It helps that unlike doctors and nurses, nearly all pilot expenses are paid for by the company, or fraudulently pawned off on insurance companies. Of course the companies boast a whopping 9 to 37 fold return on investment for putting a pilot through this. I don’t know about doctors, but us pilots can’t find investments that reliably pay ten to one. Geesh.
And then there’s the years of forced AA involvement, BY THE US GOVERNMENT via the FAA’s mandating of the HIMS program, which they drafted.
This is all delineated on HIMSPROGRAM.COM
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I found your comment after doing a google search for similar experiences to my dad’s in the HIMS program and with the FAA. He has been grounded for quite some time after complete adherence to the program’s requirements, evaluations, and tests. I am devastated for him that he has been out of his job for so long after seeking help for a medical issue through the proper channels. I am desperate to find any information at all for him from someone who has experienced similar stalling. I would love to chat if you are at all willing.
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of course, call me. 423-883-0721, voice or text.
Hi–I attempted to fill out your survey, but kept receiving a this question needs to be filled out flag and could not submit. Everything was completed in full, not sure why it kept coming up. I would love to communicate further
Yes I’ve been hearing this recently from a lot of people and attempting to fix. Appears to have been an intentional hack. In the interim e-mail or call me.
Just fixed it
Hi, I’ve been struggling with the decision to reach out to you for a while. I currently have legal representation and didn’t want to jeopardize anything, but my lawyer actually referred me here. Without going into detail I’ll just say that I’m a very young female physician with a full, unrestricted license to practice in one state and I’m now being extorted by the PHP and medical board of another state. This is my story. Without giving names and details, I’ve tried my best both to entertain and inform. It may be too late for me, but maybe there’s someone reading this who can learn something from my follies.
A month ago I didn’t even know what a PHP was, and now I’m caught up in a Kafkaesque nightmare. My career and my professional reputation are the only things I have in this world, and they’re being threatened by a mafia-like entity. The real tragedy is that the purported purpose of these physician “health” pograms is to provide an ANONYMOUS means for healthcare professionals to seek help for problems such as depression, burnout, and addiction. In a profession with the highest suicide rate of any other, a number which is abnormally high (2x the general population and climbing), we so desperately need an ally, someone to actually help us out of compassion, someone to HELP US without holding our livelihoods hostage. So many of us suffer in terrified, lonely silence. The reality is these physician “health” pograms are just predatory organizations who thrive on extortion of vulnerable, unsuspecting health professionals. They’re just another over-priced middleman plaguing our profession, seeking to make a buck off an alluring sales pitch.
In some instances, such as the state in which I’m seeking licensure, the PHPs are weaponized by medical boards. Because they have no oversight, they no longer even need pretense. I didn’t darken the doors of the PHP as an anonymous, battle-scarred physician seeking asylum from internal demons. No, I was FORCED by the state medical board to undergo an extremely expensive interrogation and a monitored drug screen (which, by the way, was an extra fee. Yep, a stranger charged me to give them a little S&M experience. Talk about backwards…Hmmph!). If I didn’t submit myself to torture, I couldn’t obtain my state medical license. Maybe I still can’t; that’s all tbd.
What was my crime? Was I some suspected medical serial killer? No. Did I show up to work emanating alcohol fumes with a syringe sticking out of my antecubital fossa? No. Was I sent one too many billing queries and threatening to jump out of a window of the hospital’s top floor during some psychotic break? Ha, now that’s plausible, but nope. My “crime” was a nearly two year old dismissed charge in my home state. Yep, that’s it. The medical board of my state didn’t even bat an eye. In fact, that same year I renewed my medical license. I considered it a lesson learned and life went on. Well, sort of…
At the time of the ultimately-dismissed charge I was dealing with the transition from residency to being an attending. I’ll admit my decisions from the start were misguided. Due to the shortcomings of the residency match process (which is a rant for another blog) I’d found myself 3 years earlier scrambling into a residency in No Man’s Land (NML) in a specialty I didn’t want. For the first time since Operation Desert Storm, I was forced to leave my Home State (HS) and travel far, far away to NML to obtain residency training. True to my nature, I kept my head down and worked hard for 3 years in NML. It wasn’t easy. I missed birthdays, anniversaries, funerals, and holidays back in my HS. I worked and recorded no more than 100 hours a week (in keeping with federal guidelines, of course) for a meager salary which required me to defer my medical school loans, max out my credit cards, and burn through inheritance from my last living grandparent (whose funeral I missed during my indentured servitude in NML). It wasn’t all bad, though. I’d managed to make friends in NML, all of whom were associated with my training hospital and program, and all of whom I left behind upon graduation. What kept me going was the thought of returning to my HS.
By residency graduation in NML I had, like so many others, sold my soul to the promises of a tiny for-profit hospital in some no-name town I’d never been to in my HS. Sign-on bonuses! Relocation stipend! Residency stipend for the remainder of my 3rd year in residency! A guaranteed base salary that was 600% more than my residency salary, PLUS an RVU incentive! And all I have to do is work as the sole provider on nights for 12 hours, 7 nights a week for 3 years! And I get 7 nights off every other week! No PTO, no penalties…nothing! Wow!!! Yeah. Wow. Wow, indeed. I signed on the dotted line and they worked me to the bone. I mean, they absolutely beat out of me my will to live. The thing about for-profit hospitals is they will cut any corner in patient care to wring out a penny of profit. ANY corner. No blood products available? No problem. Medication shortages? No problem. No subspecialty coverage? No problem-o! Admit everyone for anything! The Emergency Physicians were entering admission orders and notifying me after the fact. I’m not kidding. Every patient stays in that hospital in every situation at all costs. It was mayhem. After 2 years of my 3 year obligation, I’d had enough of watching innocent people die in a facility ill-equipped and unqualified to meet their needs. I could no longer suffer the guilt of being complicit to murder. I resigned and began looking for work elsewhere. Before you think me weak, I should point out that I was this hospital’s longest employed Nocturnist. That’s right, everyone else who signed on the dotted line, like I had, quit almost immediately. One Nocturnist turned in his resignation letter after working just 2 weeks. For anyone reading this who is naive like I, it’s never a good idea to quit a job (no matter how horrible) before securing work elsewhere.
The emotional toll, though, was too much for me. I failed to mention that I am unmarried with no kids, and was newly single upon my relocation from NML to my HS. My personal life is a f*cking minefield, ok? I’m convinced it’s because of my professional dissatisfaction. Of course, maybe it’s just me, idk. Regardless the cause, Taylor Swift could make at least 4 albums out of the last 2 years of my life. I digress…
Enter the state in which I’m applying for licensure. Let’s just call it New Calamity, or NC for short. NC is…ok. Geographically it’s between NML and HS. I applied for a license with NC’s medical board 5 months ago because I was offered my dream job. My dream job is in academic medicine, supervising residents at a prestigious university. I get to pass on my medical knowledge for a fixed salary (which is more than my previous hospital’s salary) with no RVU incentive. That means it’s not production-based. The shifts are only 8 hours as opposed to 12, and there are 3 shifts to choose from. I can start over! Indeed I jumped in wholeheartedly. I got a residence and a boyfriend in NC (New Calamity, of course. He’s a lawyer, you should check him out, ladies. What’s that? Why am I advertising my bf to single ladies? Oh, he dumped me because of all of this, but it’s fine. We’re practically BFFs. Pssst…TSwift, if you’re reading, I want halfsies an album deal, K?!)There’s just one little catch: the NCMB (New Calamity Medical Board). To get a medical license in NC, I had to enter the Den of Horrors that is the NCPHP (New Calamity Physicians “Health” Pogram) to make sure…of what,exactly? I don’t know, I guess to make sure I’m not a menace to society? Look, I’m not denying the existence of impaired physicians, but given that they’ve earned one of the highest titles in existence, I think they and/or their employers are more than qualified to make that distinction. That isn’t the case with me. Sure, what I did was wreck less and stupid, but it was a mistake. It wasn’t alcohol-related and hasn’t happened before or since (and will never).
Oh, wait, that’s not the end of the story. The NCPHP (New Calamity Physicians Health Pogram) decided that they couldn’t decide whether or not I had a substance use disorder (yes, they did, as in their report to the New Calamity Medical Board they cited alcohol use disorder as a primary diagnosis and sedative/hypnotic use disorder as a secondary diagnosis), and they recommended further evaluation in a form of a comprehensive assessment at numerous approved facilities (rehab programs) across the country. Of course, these facilities cost tens of thousands of dollars and scholarships are available (I shit you not) to mitigate the costs. I suspect (as do many other physicians, promoting and audit) that these sites are “approved” by the New Calamity Physicians “Health” Pogram because the rehab centers, in turn, fund them for referrals. Oh, and btdubs, the New Calamity Physicians “Health” Pogram also wants to monitor me for an undisclosed amount of time.
Suffice it to say I will neither enter rehab simply because I have moderate alcohol consumption on weeks that I don’t work (and none on weeks that I do) nor because I take an over-the-counter sleep aid to sleep during the day on weeks that I do work. Yep, that is the sole basis of all this. I wish I were kidding. Come what may, I would rather forfeit my licensure application and thus my dream job than admit that I’m something I’m not. I’d rather go back to a corporate concentration camp than bear a professional scarlet letter for unfounded accusations. For now, I lie in wait living off savings and consoled by my sweet cat and my personal convictions. It’s an isolated existence, but naively I put my trust in the reason of law. I am cautiously hopeful, for hope is all I have.
To all young physicians out there, here is my advice. First of all, be aware that medical licensing boards are looking for any flaws in your medical application and will exploit weaknesses. If you have any weaknesses, obtain legal council before undertaking the application process. If at any point you are referred to a PHP, DO NOT agree to anything before consulting a lawyer with experience. Thirdly, if you’re in the trap as I am, DO NOT sign anything before consulting a lawyer. Fourthly, you are not alone, nor are you in a minority. Fifthly, and this is MOST IMPORTANT: you are not an impaired physician just because some jackboot mafia implies you are. You are not disgraced. You are not a bad person. You are not a bad physician. If you truly have a problem, you are qualified to make that decision on your own. By all means, seek help but be careful. The PHPs are not your friend; they are not on your side. There are plenty other more anonymous and effective means to gain help that don’t involve jeopardizing your career. Please take care.
May I post this publicly? Your narrative is both informative and entertaining and I would like to share it with others. And please call me anytime.
Sure, if you think it could help someone I’d be honored.
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