Patterns in Actions Against US Physician Licenses

Substance use, psychological impairment, and physical impairment

  • Based on data from the National Practitioner Databank, a government database of adverse action reports and malpractice payments, actions taken against physicians’ licenses related to substance use or psychological impairment were more likely to result in indefinite penalties than were license actions arising from physicians’ physical impairments.
  • The large majority (76.3%) of actions taken against the licenses of US physicians between 2004 and 2020 were related to substance use; psychological impairment and physical impairment accounted for much smaller percentages (11.5% and 12.2%, respectively).
  • Actions related to substance use have decreased during the past 17 years but remain much higher than those related to physical health.


Rotenstein LS, Dadlani A, Cleary J, Sen S, Jena A, Mata DA. Patterns in Actions Against Physician Licenses Related to Substance Use and Psychological or Physical Impairment in the US From 2004 to 2020. JAMA Health Forum. 2022;3:e221163.