Physicians who believe they have been subjected to unfair treatment and/or discipline by a state medical board, physician health program (PHP), or other regulatory bodies now have a place to turn for information, advice, and support.

The newly launched Center for Physician Rights (CPR) "will aggressively pursue necessary changes in the administrative legal arena to ensure fairness, prevent abuse of power and, where indicated, promote ethical and compassionate treatment," according to the organization's website.

Propelled by his own career-ending experience with the North Carolina Medical Board (NCMB) and that state's PHP, CPR founder Kernan Manion, MD, told Medscape Medical News the new organization will, among other things, offer physicians "pointers" on how to deal with PHPs.

"We will tell them, here's what you need to look out for; here are the warning signs of a sham peer review; here are some methods to approach this; here is why you need to have a lawyer who specializes in this and not a generic lawyer," he said.

A practicing psychiatrist for some 30 years who had no previous disciplinary problems with any licensing body, Manion said he was put on the defensive when an anonymous source raised concerns about his mental health, which resulted in an investigation by the NCMB.

Although an independent, comprehensive psychological evaluation determined he had no mental disorder or other psychological impairment, an assessment by the NCMB concluded otherwise, and he was forced to deactivate his medical license.

In the midst of his struggles, Manion organized a physician advocacy study group whose members were experts in this area or "who had been traumatized" by firsthand experience with a state medical board or PHP, he said.

Subsequently, the group began reaching out to the physician community and gradually became more visible, he said. As it did so, individual physicians, some of them "desperate" in the face of a PHP accusation, began reaching out for help.

One-Stop Shop

Now, with the official launch of the CPR, said Manion, these physicians have a one-stop access point for assistance. The CPR will offer a range of services, he said. For instance, physicians can get a free "curbside" consultation, which will provide them with feedback and guidance.