Licensing and Regulatory Affairs
TOLL-FREE INFORMATON: 800-453-3784
Q. What is the purpose of the Health Professional Recovery Program?
A. Under Section 333.16106a of the Public Health Code, it is illegal for a health professional to be impaired. Impairment is defined as the inability or immediately impending inability of a health professional to practice his or her profession in a manner that conforms to the minimum standards of acceptable practice for the profession. Impairment includes substance abuse, chemical dependence, and mental illness.
The Health Professional Recovery Program (HPRP) is designed to be a non-disciplinary approach to treating addictions and mental illness among health care professionals. By seeking early treatment, health professionals minimize the chance that their impairment will harm a patient or themselves.
The program focuses on treating the whole person and often includes treatment, attendance at group meetings, therapy, drug screening (for substance abuse/chemical addiction), worksite monitoring, and self assessment. Depending upon the circumstances of the individual and the work environment, the HPRP contractor may also place certain limitations upon the license (such as hours of work, acceptable shifts, etc.).
The program is offered free-of-charge to all health care professionals who are licensed or registered under Sections 7 and 15 of the Public Health Code. The program is run by a private contractor to the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs and is overseen by the Health Professional Recovery Committee, a multidisciplinary advisory committee which develops the policies and procedures for the program contractor. The Bureau of Professional Licensing provides administrative and support staff to the Committee as well as contract administration.
Q. I am a doctor in a small private practice. I think one of my partners may be having a problem with alcohol. She frequently shows up late and sometimes I smell alcohol on her breath during the workday. Our office manager has called several problems to my attention recently. They don't seem to be big problems but this doctor was always so meticulous about her records before. She was also recently divorced. I don't know if there is a problem but I am concerned about her and about our practice as well. What should I do?
A. Some of the signs you are seeing may be indicative of a problem -- either substance abuse or mental health. Although some of these symptoms could be normal following a divorce, the important thing to remember is whether or not the level of care for patients is being compromised. In addition, as a licensee, under Section 333.16222 of the Public Health Code, you are required to report any violation of the Public Health Code to the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. Under Section 333.16223 of the Public Health Code, if you have reasonable cause to believe that another licensee may be impaired or has the potential to be impaired, you are required to report this to the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs as well. For purposes of reporting impairment only, this report may be made to the Health Professional Recovery Program at 800-453-3784.
The Health Professional Recovery Program will contact the licensee and state that there has been a report of possible impairment. The licensee will then be required to be evaluated by a person who has expertise in substance abuse/chemical dependency or mental health problems of health care professionals and who is on the approved list for the program. The HPRP will then use this report to decide whether the licensee should be participating in the program.
Q. I am considering a report against a coworker on my shift. Do I have to provide my name when I report him to the HPRP? What other information do they need?
A.. Yes. Reports made in good faith are honored. Your name will not normally be disclosed to the licensee. However, if there is subsequent disciplinary action against the licensee/registrant, you may be contacted and may be required to testify as to what you observed.
When you make a report, please be prepared to provide documentation which will help the HPRP to determine whether the licensee or registrant may have a problem and should be considered for the program. Documentation can include such items as notes on behavioral problems, time and attendance records, examples of charting errors, notes on observations (such as "appeared to be intoxicated while treating patients," or "was observed short-changing patient medications," etc.).
Q. I've read that the HPRP is a confidential, non-disciplinary program for recovery. How confidential is my name if I am a participant in the program ?
A.. Your confidentiality is protected as long as you are in compliance with your Monitoring Agreement. Your name will not be disclosed to the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, the licensing boards, or the public by the contractor under subpoena or a Freedom of Information Request under Section 333.16170a of the Public Health Code.
Q. What will happen to me if I am reported to the HPRP and I choose not to enter into a Monitoring Agreement?
A. The first decision is whether you are qualified for the program. An assessment is conducted by an evaluator who is experienced in evaluating health professionals for substance abuse or mental health problems. If the assessment indicates there is no problem, your name will not be disclosed and there is nothing further you need to do.
However, if the assessment indicates there is a problem, the HPRP contractor will work with you to design a personalized Monitoring Agreement which is put into writing. If you refuse to sign the Monitoring Agreement, your name will be turned over to the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs for review and possible disciplinary action.
Q. I have been reported to HPRP for a possible problem with drugs. I know someone who does drug assessments in a clinic. Can I go to an evaluator or assessor of my choice?
A. You will be provided a list of qualified evaluators. You may choose an evaluator from that list. You may not go to someone who is not on the list and expect that the assessment will be honored by the HPRP. Because some health care professionals are very experienced in health issues and have access to a greater variety of drugs than the general public, it is necessary that your assessment be conducted by someone who is experienced in working with health professionals.
Q. I am a well-known pharmacist in my community. I do not want to attend a course of in-patient treatment in our county because I am concerned about others knowing about my problem. Can the HPRP help me?
A. Yes. Following an assessment you normally would be given a list of approved treatment centers which are geographically close to you and which meet the level-of-care you need. If you would like to attend a treatment program which is further away, you can indicate that to the HPRP staff. They will attempt to find another treatment program which may be able to provide the level of confidentiality you are seeking. There are several out-of-state inpatient programs which are also acceptable to the HPRP.
Q. I am nearing the end of my Monitoring Agreement. How long will the HPRP keep my records?
A. The standard length of time is one to three years for the Monitoring Agreement. The authorizing statute mandates that records will be maintained by the contractor for another five years following conclusion of the participation in the program.
Q. I was caught diverting drugs by my hospital and turned in to the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs and the Michigan State Police. Can I still get into the HPRP?
A. Yes. However, the HPRP is not a "hiding place" for those facing legal problems. Your hospital was required to report your diversion to the Department under Section 333.20175 of the Public Health Code. The Department will turn your name over to the HPRP and allow them an opportunity to bring you into the program. If you are found to have a problem and refuse to enter the program, your name will be returned to the Department and you may face administrative investigation and sanctions against your license. Also, you will lose confidentiality at the point your case is authorized for investigation.
Diversion of drugs is a crime under Michigan's Penal Code. The Michigan State Police or other law enforcement agencies may investigate your case and may bring charges with the local prosecutor. Any actions conducted by the Michigan State Police or any other law enforcement agency are independent of the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, which only has authority over your license/registration.
You may also incur legal expenses associated with administrative hearings as well as criminal proceedings. Some judges -- but not all -- may consider the fact that you are in the HPRP to be a mitigating factor in your sentencing.
Q. Who do I contact for more information on the HPRP?
A. Call 800-453-3784. This is the HPRP number which is answered by the HPRP current contractor, Ulliance, Inc.