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Statement attributable to AOA President Thomas L. Ely, DO:
“Physicians in the United States have the highest rate of suicide among all professions. Despite this tragic fact, the doctors that care for our nation face hurdles accessing the health care they need to sustain their mental health.
COVID-19 exacerbated problems that have long plagued the medical profession. The suicide of Dr. Lorna Breen, an emergency physician, highlights the many additional challenges physicians confront during this pandemic, which include the trauma of losing both patients and colleagues, operating in conditions previously considered unfathomable and managing the stress of potentially transmitting a deadly virus to family and friends.
The Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act provides needed support for the many physicians and medical students, including osteopathic physicians and medical students and other health care professionals on the front lines of care during this crisis. This legislation would authorize new training programs for health professionals, evidence-based awareness and educational campaigns, grants for peer support and treatment programs and a study of the mental and behavioral health effects of COVID-19 on the healthcare workforce.
If we do not act now in support of the health care profession, other physicians will be lost to burnout, substance abuse and other mental health disorders. The American Osteopathic Association strongly supports this bipartisan bill and urges Congressional leaders to include it as part of the COVID-19 legislative package currently being negotiated.”