Critical Issues in the Assessment and Treatment of Suicidal Physicians: Life-Saving Tips for the Practicing Clinician

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Presenting Author(s): Dr. Michael Myers, MD

Date and time: 23 Mar 2019 from 10:20 to 11:50

Location: Wildrose Salon C  Floor Map

Objectives

  1. Review essential goals in the evaluation of suicidal physicians;
  2. Identify helpful strategies in the initial and ongoing treatment of suicidal physicians; and
  3. Adopt self-care principles, interact with each other and acquire professional confidence when treating psychiatrically ill medical colleagues.

Literature References

  1. Myers MF. Why Physicians Die by Suicide: Lessons Learned From Their Families and Others Who Cared. Michael F Myers. Amazon
    CreateSpace. NY. 2017
  2. Yellowlees P. Physician Suicide: Cases and Commentaries. American Psychiatric Association Publishing, Inc. Washington, DC 2018
  3. Myers MF, Gabbard GO. The Physician As Patient: A Clinical Handbook for Mental Health Professionals. American Psychiatric
    Association Publishing, Inc. Washington, DC 2008
  4. Myers MF. Suicidal behaviors in physicians. In Brower K and Riba M Physician Mental Health and Well-Being: Research and
    Practice. Springer. New York 2017

Abstract

Treating symptomatic physicians is a complicated business and far too often ailing doctors do not get the same standard of care that lay
patients receive. When the physician is suicidal the consequences can be dire. This interactive workshop is spearheaded by a senior
psychiatrist who has been evaluating and treating physicians throughout a decades-long career that began in 1970. Over 20 minutes, Dr
Myers will discuss the following issues:

  1. Always apply the time-honored biopsychosocial perspective when evaluating physician-patients;
  2. Respect the pernicious effects of stigma and how much terror and shame drive inauthentic appraisals of physicians’ personal narratives;
  3. Interview significant others, especially family loved ones, for essential collateral information (and in some cases) ongoing monitoring between appointments;
  4. Carefully assess alcohol use and other forms of substance abuse, especially self-prescribing;
  5. Plan treatment using both a suicide risk assessment and suicide risk formulation;
  6. Address concerns about confidentiality and duty to report;
  7. Treat sleep disturbances aggressively;
  8. Obtain consultation whenever countertransference may be problematic; and
  9. Practice personal wellness.

Attendees are encouraged to bring questions and disguised case examples from their practices for the 70 minute discussion period.



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