I’ve been following the posts about depression on the forum and am touched by the courage and honesty by the “future docs” as well as “docs”. Now I have heard about someone who was supposedly denied a residency slot because their school learned about the student’s past history of treatment for depression. Is this for real? Do schools actually do this and isn’t that a violation of privacy laws? Aren’t they asking for trouble if students won’t get the help they need because they are afraid of reprisals?
I recall reading a New York Times Sunday Magazine article on how a doctor was suing a hospital admitting board for demanding to see her psych records before approving her. A quick search of the web found this:
This may be the case that you are referring to.
There is nothing in the residency application that would reveal past treatment for a psychiatric disorder, or a physical ailment for that matter. However, the ramp-up blizzard of paper prior to starting residency could, I suppose, lead to this situation…
My employment application and my license application both asked if I had any “medical or psychiatric condition which could affect your performance of your job duties.” (emphasis added) I have no idea what would’ve happened if I had revealed something that they found alarming. I was nervous enough about admitting to my (treated and in remission) MS, but got not one follow-up question about it. When you think about it, it’s a stupid question phrased the way I saw it. I don’t know that I’m going to be hit by a truck tomorrow, but I could be, and gee, that might affect my job performance if, say, I were in a coma. Just to use a ludricrous example, but anyway…
There’s been discussion on SDN in the residency forums about revealing past treatment for psychiatric conditions. The consensus seems to be, for God’s sake don’t say anything. I am sorry to have to say that I agree. Certainly if presented with the questions I faced, I would deny any such experience and if pressed later would say, "Well, I did not anticipate further problems and so I did NOT think it would affect my work performance in the future."
I doubt that these sorts of questions or actions would hold up under intense legal scrutiny. One can only conclude that they haven’t been subjected to such - yet.