Fortitude amidst the trials of medicine

by Scott Humphreys, MD, medical director, Colorado Physician Health Program

When we embarked on our journey into medicine, we were prepared for challenges: the weight of high expectations, the relentless hours, the ongoing pursuit of knowledge, and the delicate dance with life, death and illness. Yet, amidst these anticipated trials, few events hit with the force of a malpractice suit or regulatory complaint.

Driven by altruism, we chose medicine, forsaking potential wealth from other career paths for the profound satisfaction of aiding our fellow beings. It became our calling, our very essence.

But nothing shatters this identity quite like facing a malpractice suit. Suddenly, the compassionate healer stands accused of breaching the sacred bond between patient and practitioner – a betrayal that cuts deep. And as the accusations are skillfully woven by seasoned attorneys, the accused find themselves engulfed in a vortex of doubt and despair.

The initial response is often sheer panic – a cascade of catastrophic thoughts envisioning ruin in every aspect of life. Isolation follows, as shame cloaks the afflicted, convincing them they stand alone in their anguish. I have witnessed this descent into darkness, where the burden becomes unbearable. Sometimes, the unthinkable, taking one’s own life, becomes a desperate consideration.

Similar anguish accompanies regulatory complaints, each word a legal dagger aimed at the heart of our noble intentions. The threat of losing one’s license looms large, casting a shadow over all else.

So, what can be done? We must speak about it. Through initiatives like CPHP’s Doc2Doc Wellbeing Consulting (D2D) line or COPIC’s Care for the Caregiver, physicians in Colorado have found solace and support. You may call D2D 24/7 at 720-810-9131 and speak with someone who has helped thousands of similar doctors with similar fears. With the ear of a fellow healer, we find reassurance, perspective and a lifeline in the tempest. We stand ready to listen, to guide, and to remind you that you are not alone.

Categories: Communications, Colorado Medicine, Resources, Initiatives, Physician Wellbeing Resource Center