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Commentary: Impaired Physicians and the New Politics of Accountability

Fox, Daniel M. PhD

doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e3181a402e6

Several recent articles, including the one by Schroeder and colleagues in this issue, document violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by state medical boards that ask applicants for initial licensure and relicensure whether they have any history of mental illness. The authors of these articles argue that the boards’ violation of the ADA is a disincentive for applicants to seek treatment, especially for depression. This commentary discusses the behavior of the boards, and efforts to address it, in the larger context of what organizations that educate, examine, license, certify, credential, and represent physicians are doing to improve the accountability of members of the profession and, as a result, the quality of their services.

Dr. Fox is president emeritus, Milbank Memorial Fund, New York, New York.

Correspondence should be addressed to Dr. Fox, 100 West 12th Street, 3T, New York, NY 10011; e-mail: (

Editor’s Note: This is a commentary on Schroeder R, Brazeau CMLR, Zackin F, et al. Do state medical board applications violate the Americans with Disabilities Act? Acad Med. 2009;84:776–781.

© 2009 Association of American Medical Colleges