The California Physicians Diversion Program's experience with recovering anesthesiologists

J Psychoactive Drugs. Oct-Dec 1991;23(4):427-31. doi: 10.1080/02791072.1991.10471613.


This article examines the effectiveness of the rehabilitation of anesthesiologists who are addicted to alcohol or other drugs. There has been some concern and discussion about allowing anesthesiologists who are addicted to alcohol or other drugs to continue practicing in their specialty. This article analyzes success rates, relapse rates, and failure rates among the anesthesiologists and residents of anesthesiology in the California Physicians Diversion Program for chemically dependent doctors. Of the 255 physicians who have successfully completed the program during the ten years prior to March 1990, 35 were practicing anesthesiologists, including six resident anesthesiologists. Although doctors in this specialty are more at risk for manifesting addiction to alcohol and other drugs, California's experience demonstrates that they have an equal chance of recovery and contradicts the pessimism about recovery in anesthesiologists.

MeSH terms

  • Alcoholism / rehabilitation
  • Anesthesiology / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Anesthesiology / statistics & numerical data*
  • California / epidemiology
  • Drug Prescriptions
  • Humans
  • Licensure, Medical
  • Physician Impairment / statistics & numerical data*
  • Recurrence
  • Risk Factors
  • Substance-Related Disorders / rehabilitation*
  • Workforce