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At least one-third of all physicians will experience a disabling illness or injury during their professional careers. A physician who accepts the privileges afforded by a state license to practice medicine also accepts many legal responsibilities. The treating physician of an impaired physician-patient also has potentially conflicting legal obligations. The ethical responsibility of each physician to maintain the highest standards of professional conduct is deeply ingrained in all ethical constructs for physicians. Medical licensure carries ethical and legal responsibilities to maintain physical, mental and emotional abilities necessary to the safe practice of medicine. Physicians have ethical obligations to self-report problems that may compromise their ability to practice, and to take measures to mitigate the problem, seek appropriate help and honestly assess their ability to continue practice. Professional organizations have duties to ensure that their members are capable of providing safe medical care.