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When physician health or wellness is compromised, so may the safety and effectiveness of the medical care provided. To preserve the quality of their performance, physicians have a responsibility to maintain their health and wellness, broadly construed as preventing or treating acute or chronic diseases, including mental illness, disabilities, and occupational stress.

To fulfill this responsibility individually, physicians should: 

  1. Maintain their own health and wellness by: 
    1. following healthy lifestyle habits; 
    2. ensuring that they have a personal physician whose objectivity is not compromised. 
  2. Take appropriate action when their health or wellness is compromised, including: 
    1. engaging in honest assessment of their ability to continue practicing safely; 
    2. taking measures to mitigate the problem; 
    3. taking appropriate measures to protect patients, including measures to minimize the risk of transmitting infectious disease commensurate with the seriousness of the disease; 
    4. seeking appropriate help as needed, including help in addressing substance abuse. Physicians should not practice if their ability to do so safely is impaired by use of a controlled substance, alcohol, other chemical agent or a health condition. 

Collectively, physicians have an obligation to ensure that colleagues are able to provide safe and effective care, which includes promoting health and wellness among physicians.

AMA Principles of Medical Ethics: I, II, IV
Read the Principles

Council Reports