Revised February 2020, October 2013, October 2006, April 1994
Reaffirmed September 1999
Originally approved September 1990
The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) recognizes the need for mental and physical health and well-being among emergency physicians, while assuring patient safety.
Personal health problems including physical or mental illness, injury, aging, burnout, circadian rhythm disruption, substance use disorders, and other conditions can detract from physician performance, and may interfere with a physician’s ability to engage safely in patient care. Personal and professional stressors not rising to the level of health problems may also hinder a physician’s ability to function effectively in the workplace.
The existence of a health problem in a physician is NOT synonymous with occupational impairment. Because of their training and dedication, most physicians with appropriately managed personal health problems and other stressors are able to function safely and effectively in the workplace.
“Physician impairment”, on the other hand, exists when a physician becomes unable to practice medicine with reasonable skill and safety because of personal health problems or other stressors. In most physicians, impairment is a self-limited state that is amenable to intervention, assistance, recovery, and/or resolution.
ACEP endorses the following principles:
1 Adapted from: Federation of State Medical Boards, April 2018, “Physician Wellness and Burnout”. Retrieved from http://www.fsmb.org/siteassets/advocacy/policies/policy-on-wellness-and-burnout.pdf2 Jones JTR, North CS, Vogel-Scibilia S, Myers MF, Owen RR. Medical Licensure Questions About Mental Illness and Compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act. The journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law. 2018;46(4):458-471.