We’ve been looking in recent posts at the issue of mental disability among professionals and the need for professionals to protect their rights when their career is put at risk because of mental disability. The case we’ve been looking at involves a physician who was allegedly terminated because of behaviors related to a mental disability.
In Minnesota, a physician’s license could be at risk if a mental illness has a significant impact on his or her performance. Under state law, mental incompetence, mental illness, developmental disability, and chemical dependence can all serve as grounds for disciplinary action. In fact, determination of any of these circumstances will result in automatic suspension of physician’s license.
Inability to practice medicine with reasonable skill and safety to patients because of any mental condition can also serve as grounds for discipline. Determining exactly when a finding of mental incompetence or mental illness is appropriate is not always straightforward. If a physician has an official diagnosis, it may be easier to establish grounds for discipline, as long as it can be shown that the physician’s condition is affecting his or her performance. Likewise, whether a physician’s performance constitutes reasonable skill and safety is not always a straightforward determination.
As we’ve said before on this blog, medical professionals who have been subjected to termination or other adverse employment based on a mental impairment should always work with an experienced advocate to ensure their rights are protected and that they have a strong voice in the disciplinary process.