The U.S. Senate voted by unanimous consent in favor of the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act (S.610) Aug. 6. The American College of Radiology® (ACR®)-supported legislation is named in honor of Lorna M. Breen, MD, an emergency physician who died by suicide after weeks of caring for COVID-19 patients and recovering from the virus herself. Dr. Breen feared she was “letting down” her patients and colleagues and that seeking the mental health treatment she needed would end her promising career.
COVID-19 has generated an unprecedented modern public health crisis that not only has resulted in severe illness and a tremendous loss of life, but also has taken a toll on the mental health and well-being of selfless healthcare providers. Ensuring clinicians can freely seek mental health treatment is an essential component of a strong and capable healthcare workforce, which in turn will provide optimal patient care.
S. 610 is intended to ensure that physicians and other clinicians can pursue treatment for mental health without fear of resultant loss of licensure, loss of income, training/career setbacks and the residual impacts of any persistent stigma associated with any mental health-related issue.
The legislation awaits action in the U.S. House of Representatives.