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Bill to address physician burnout has now cleared both Kentucky chambers

By: - March 13, 2023 8:14 pm

The University of Louisville plans to use the grant to “attract and train medical students with an interest in practicing primary care in medically underserved communities. (Getty Images)

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Gov. Andy Beshear signed this bill in March. 

A Kentucky Senate bill aimed at preventing burnout among physicians has now cleared both chambers of the Kentucky General Assembly. 

Republican-backed Senate Bill 12 unanimously cleared the Senate in late February and the House on Monday. 

The legislation would protect Kentucky doctors who seek mental health help from wellness programs by stating they do not need to report their participation in such a program and they cannot be dismissed for not reporting it.

It does not mean that physicians don’t need to report conditions that have the potential to hinder their judgment, the Lantern previously reported.

Doctors who testified in committee in favor of the bill said burnout among doctors can lead to lower patient satisfaction, low morale, high turnover, increased rates of substance abuse and even suicide

Primary sponsor Sen. Donald Douglas, R-Nicholasville, has testified that being able to access private help for stress “without fear of retaliation” is “imperative” for Kentucky’s doctors. 

Rep. Killian Timoney, who presented the Senate bill to the House, told colleagues it would “have a significant impact for Kentucky physicians.” 

“Like many professions over the last few years,” Timoney said, “physicians have seen significant increases in work-related stress both due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the overall demanding nature of their work.” 

But SB 12, he said, will help address this by encouraging doctors to get mental health help when they need it — and promising them confidentiality when they do so. 

There was no discussion before a unanimous and bipartisan House vote. 

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Sarah Ladd
Sarah Ladd

Sarah Ladd is a Louisville-based journalist from West Kentucky who's covered everything from crime to higher education. She spent nearly two years on the metro breaking news desk at The Courier Journal. In 2020, she started reporting on the COVID-19 pandemic and has covered health ever since. As the Kentucky Lantern's health reporter, she focuses on mental health, LGBTQ+ issues, children's welfare, COVID-19 and more.

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