Emergency Physician Organizations Mark National Physician Suicide Awareness Day
WASHINGTON, September 17, 2021 / PRNewswire / – Today is National Physician Suicide Awareness Day and the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) recognizes those we have lost and strengthens its commitment to break down barriers that prevent emergency physicians from seeking mental health care.
“Our frontline professionals rise up to face extraordinary challenges, but they are humane and vulnerable to months of relentless stress, grief and pressure,” said Marc Rosenberg, DO, MBA, FACEP, president of CAPE. “The loss of any physician is deeply personal and tragic for families, colleagues and patients. As we all do our best to bring the country closer to the end of the pandemic, we must take better care of the medical professionals who are working hard to protect us. “
National Physician Suicide Day is an initiative of CAPE and the Board of Residency Directors in Emergency Medicine (CORD), Association of Emergency Medicine Residents (EMRA), American Academy of Emergency Medicine (AAEM) and its Student Resident Association (RSA), the American College of Osteopathic Emergency Physicians (ACOEP) and its Student Resident Organization (RSO), and the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine (SAEM ).
These organizations support Vision Zero, an effort to prevent physician loss by calling on “individuals, residency programs, health care organizations and national groups to commit to eliminating stigma, raising awareness, to open the conversation to reduce fear of consequences, to reach out to your colleagues, to recognize warning signs and to learn to approach our colleagues who may be at risk. ”
Emergency medicine is difficult under normal circumstances, and the pandemic only increases the pressure on the front lines. Emergency physicians have historically high burnout rates with over 65% of emergency physicians and residents in a burnout situation during their career. Studies suggest that at least 6,000 emergency physicians have considered committing suicide and up to 400 have attempted suicide.
Despite these challenges, many emergency physicians are reluctant to deal with their mental health. A morning ACEP consultation survey shows that nearly half (45 percent) of emergency physicians nationwide report they are uncomfortable seeking mental health treatment.
CAPE is leading efforts to ensure that physicians can take the necessary steps to protect their mental health, including strong support for Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act, the bill named in honor of the emergency physician who tragically committed suicide in april 2020. This bill calls for significant action to reduce and prevent suicide and burnout through behavioral health programs, including grants to establish and expand mental health support services, and a federal study on the ‘burnout. Emergency physicians hope the House Energy and Commerce Committee will start discussing this important legislation as soon as possible.
CAPE and more than 40 medical organizations have described recommendations remove barriers to treatment, including fear of reprisal, and encourage professional and peer support for physicians.
Emergency physicians also strongly support the Position of the Joint Commission that a health professional’s history of mental illness should not be used as an indication of their current or future ability to practice medicine.
“We have yet to see the true extent of the mark this pandemic will leave on all those working on the front lines,” said Dr Rosenberg. “But one of the most meaningful ways to honor the legacy of those we have lost is to work to change the culture of medicine and do all we can to prevent future tragedies from happening.”
The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) is the national medical society representing emergency medicine. Through continuing education, research, public education, and advocacy, CAPE advances emergency care on behalf of its 40,000 emergency physician members and the more than 150 million Americans in they process every year. For more information visit www.acep.org and www.emergencyphysicians.org.
SOURCE American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP)