Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Twenty-Three Defendants – Including Nine Doctors – Charged With Enterprise Corruption in Massive $7 Million Medicaid Fraud

From this press Release from the BROOKLYN DISTRICT ATTORNEY'S OFFICE in the State of New York

Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson, together with United States Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General New York region Special Agent in Charge Scott J. Lampert, New York City Human Resources Administration Commissioner Steven Banks and the New York State Acting Medicaid Inspector General Dennis Rosen, today announced that nine doctors are among 23 defendants named in a 199-count indictment that alleges they participated in a massive scheme in which they lured people recruited from low-income neighborhoods, homeless shelters and welfare offices to corrupt medical clinics for unnecessary tests with the promise of free footwear such as sneakers, shoes and boots. District Attorney Thompson said, “These defendants allegedly exploited the most vulnerable members of our society and raked in millions of dollars by doing so. The many poor people who were allegedly targeted at homeless shelters, welfare offices and soup kitchens and referred to as ‘guinea pigs’ by the defendants were exploited for hours, if not days, just because they needed a pair of shoes. That so many doctors allegedly participated in this elaborate scheme to defraud a health care system designed to help the poor is truly disgraceful.” [...] In some cases, the patients were referred for psychiatric care or pain management. These referrals would then generate recurring visits for which they could bill. [...] It is further alleged that Herbert Meadow, MD, Renee Denobrega, NP, and physician’s assistant Matthew Jordan provided psychiatry services to patients, and charged inflated fees for abbreviated patient visits. They also referred patients to others in the enterprise for costly, frequent and unnecessary tests and procedures. Meadow was the owner of record for Community Medical Disorder P.C., and Vainer opened and was the sole signer of its bank account initially. Meadow is presently the sole signer, and both shared the profits generated by the billings.
This is a very large and complex investigation, and a lot of people were involved

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Five arrested in East Cove Psychiatric Services investigation

As seen here

Agents with the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation executed search warrants Tuesday morning at a Kinston psychiatric facility. That afternoon, authorities arrested East Cove Psychiatric Services’ owners and operators Joanna Wolicki-Shannon and Walter Shannon. Shannon, 64, faces 12 felony counts of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud or forgery and received a $180,000 bond. Wolicki-Shannon, 50, received charges of six felony counts of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud or forgery and took a $90,000 bond. According to the SBI, “The doctors wrote bogus prescriptions for phentermine, hydrocodone, Percocet, Adderall, vyvanse and Ritalin using their psychiatric practice employees and members of the office staff’s families to submit them to pharmacies to be filled. The employees picked up the prescribed drugs and delivered them to the doctors.” Agents arrested three others in connection to the case. Lisa Renay Lankford, 53, faces 18 felony counts of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud or forgery and received a $279,000 bond. Candice Raegan Hill, 35, and James Howington, 31, were charged with 10 felony counts each of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud or forgery along with 10 felony counts of trafficking opium. Hill received a $650,000 bond, while Howington received a $659,000 bond. Hill and Lankford are both former office managers at East Cove, and Howington is Hill's boyfriend. East Cove’s main office is located in the 1300 block of North Queen Street, while an additional facility is open Thursdays on Limehouse Road in Kenansville. East Cove serves Eastpointe region clients who require mental health, developmental disability and/or substance abuse services. State agents are being assisted by the FBI in the case. Throughout the day Tuesday the Lenoir County Sheriff’s Office also lent assistance at the scene. The suspects should make their first appearance in Lenoir County District Court on Wednesday.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

British Psychiatrist Adam Osborne is suspended AGAIN... over 'serious misconduct' with female patient

From this Report in the Daily Mail

Adam Osborne, 38, who has a private practice in Central London, last week had his licence suspended by the General Medical Council (GMC) after being accused of having a two-year sexual affair with a highly vulnerable woman patient who has psychiatric issues, is married and has two children. The news comes five years after he was suspended by the GMC for ‘dishonest and misleading’ behaviour in prescribing drugs to his cocaine-addicted prostitute lover. The latest blow means he cannot practise in any capacity as a doctor until an investigation into the new allegations has been concluded. The suspension will prove highly embarrassing for (his brother) the Chancellor (George Osborne), coming as he prepares for Wednesday’s crucial Budget, the last before May’s General Election. If the investigation results in a Fitness To Practise hearing, which is held in public, Dr Osborne could face further sensitive personal information being revealed. And if the allegations are upheld, he could be struck off. In the wake of the hearing, Dr Osborne’s personal website was taken down. His Linkedin page states that he has a special interest in adult attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, personality disorders, depression and anxiety. Dr Osborne currently runs Devonport Psychiatry, which is based in Marylebone, Central London, but is officially registered to his home address in Shepherd’s Bush, West London, which he shares with his wife Rahala Noor, a plastic surgeon. His suspension in 2010 stemmed from a series of allegations surrounding his use of prescription drugs, which centred on allegations of a relationship with a prostitute. The GMC said that his ‘relationship’ with the woman had ‘clouded his judgment’ and led him to prescribe powerful anti-psychotic drugs, dishonestly use a false name and fail to inform her GP. Dr Osborne was also disciplined for prescribing contraceptive pills to his then girlfriend, Rahala, a strict Muslim who would become his wife, and an anti-smoking drug to an unnamed family member. The GMC hearing was told that Dr Osborne had been in a relationship with the prostitute, referred to as Miss B, from 2007 to 2008 while he was separated from his girlfriend and he was a trainee psychiatrist in Manchester.
More Details and Photos at the Daily Mail

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Prashant Tiwari's family files $12.5M lawsuit after suicide in Brampton, Ontario hospital

As reported by the CBC

Many more details at the link

Members of a Brampton, Ont., family have launched a $12.5-million lawsuit after a 20-year-old man was found dead in the bathroom of the hospital where he was supposed to be on suicide watch.

Prashant Tiwari committed suicide last June at Brampton Civic Hospital while under treatment, the lawsuit alleges, adding he had been admitted to the psychiatric ward after he had started cutting himself.

Rakesh Tiwari alleges his son was left unattended in a hospital bathroom for three hours. During that time, the 20-year-old used his hospital gown and a chair to hang himself, his father said.

"He volunteered himself to the hospital. He knew he had some problem, and he was fighting and he needed help," said Rakesh Tiwari.

"He was not to die."

Tiwari believes staff were supposed to check on his son every 15 minutes.

"My son should not have been unattended," he said.

A lengthy statement of claim — filed at Brampton's Superior Court of Justice on Wednesday — names the hospital and numerous employees as defendants, and lays out a timeline of what happened to Prashant Tiwari in the hospital.


After his death, the statement of claim alleges, 12 people accessed Prashant’s medical records without proper authorization for unknown reasons.


California Lawmakers blast overuse of psychiatric drugs on foster kids

from this report in the Tribune in San Luis Obispo

California lawmakers on Tuesday blasted the overuse of psychiatric drugs on the state's foster children and pledged to improve the lives of thousands of vulnerable teens after more than a decade of government inaction.

"We can't let another decade go by without creating a system of care, a system of care that is capable of helping kids heal from the challenging experiences they have lived through or protecting them from further harm," said Sen. Mike McGuire, D-Healdsburg, in opening a joint Senate Human Services Committee and Senate Select Committee on Mental Health.

Advocates said the state's foster children are being prescribed psychiatric drugs at three times the rate of other youth. Since 2006, the use rate of psychotropic medications has nearly doubled, McGuire said. He noted that it's costing taxpayers millions of dollars through the state's low-income health program Medi-Cal.

Iris Hoffman, a member of the California Youth Connection in Sonoma County, told lawmakers how she spent her childhood in juvenile homes, group homes and treatment centers while heavily medicated on the anti-psychotic drugs Abilify and Seroquel. She and other foster children were fearful of retribution if they refused drugs that made them drowsy in class, Hoffman said.

"When you're in those situations, there's all kinds of punishments and things you have to be fearful of if you are to refuse medications prescribed to you by a psychiatrist that only meets with you for an hour a month," she said.

Democratic lawmakers are proposing several pieces of legislation to improve oversight after an investigation by the Bay Area News Group found that thousands of vulnerable teens in foster care are being prescribed antipsychotics that could trigger diabetes, tics, weight gain and drowsiness.

Sen. Jim Beall, D-San Jose, said Tuesday that the hearing at the Capitol is only a step in determining whether the drugs are being administered as part of a therapeutic regimen or "being used as a chemical straitjacket solely to control their behavior."

Beall and Sen. Holly Mitchell, D-Los Angeles, have proposed SB238, which would alert caretakers when drugs are overprescribed and warn of dangerous drug interactions.

Beall also plans to introduce two other bills — one calling for public health nurses to oversee the medical monitoring of children's medication, and the other to establish treatment protocols and oversight in group homes.

Lawmakers on Tuesday heard from medical professionals, child welfare directors, family service advocates, foster youth and officials from California's health and social services agencies.

The use of psychiatric drugs has increased even though the state's foster care population has dropped. As a result of reforms that emphasize keeping children with their families whenever possible, the number of children in foster care has dropped from 103,000 in 2000 to about 55,000 in 2013.

Lawmakers say nearly a quarter of adolescents in California's foster care youth system are prescribed powerful psychotropic drugs. According to the National Center for Youth Law with data provided by the state, 36 percent of them are taking multiple medications that carry harmful side effects.

Antipsychotics, antidepressants, ADHD drugs, anti-anxiety medications and mood stabilizers are some of the psychotropic drugs.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Judge: State of Alaska can't hold foster kids at mental hospital for indefinite stretches

From a report in the Alaska Dispatch News

More details at the link

Facing allegations that it improperly warehoused foster children at North Star psychiatric hospital in Anchorage, the Alaska Office of Children’s Services has been ordered by a state Superior Court judge not to keep children at the facility for indefinite periods of time.

The order is part of a preliminary injunction issued by Superior Court Judge Erin Marston that said a minor, admitted to the acute psychiatric hospital during an emergency, cannot remain there longer than 30 days without court approval.

But that length of time may change. As a next step, the judge has asked parties in the case to offer recommendations on the appropriate period of time a minor should be kept at the hospital before a court can weigh in.

The case was brought a year ago by the Southwest Alaska tribal governments of Hooper Bay and Kongiganak on behalf of the tribes’ children.

Alaska Legal Services, representing the tribes, argued that the state was improperly placing and holding children in the hospital. It provided examples of three Alaska Native teenage girls from two foster families who had been held at the hospital for at least four weeks without a judge’s approval, though their admission was based on questionable evidence.

One of the girls, a teenager referenced as C.A. for her initials, was held at the hospital for about a month, though a hearing judge later found there was no evidence supporting the decision to send her there, wrote Marston.

“OCS decided to send C.A. to North Star, although the reason for this decision is unclear,” Marston wrote.

Marston’s Feb. 12 preliminary order said that indefinite stays by children at North Star may violate U.S. constitutional rights and lead to “irreparable harm.”

“Continuing treatment of foster children without a judicial hearing raises the question of a violation of the fundamental right to due process,” he wrote.

The hospital provides a secure, locked facility where 24-hour services are given under the care of psychiatrists to children with severe emotional and behavioral disorders, he wrote.

But long, unnecessary placement at a mental hospital is not good for adolescents, said Jim Davis, the attorney arguing the case for Alaska Legal Services.

“This is not to say North Star is ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,’ but a mental hospital is not a good place for kids” with typical teenage behaviors, said Davis. “It can disempower and otherwise undermine a kid’s sense of self if they don’t really have a mental illness requiring them to be there.”

North Star Behavioral Health System was a defendant in the case along with Christy Lawton, OCS director. Like OCS, North Star must change its practices because of the preliminary order, Davis said.

Officials representing and working for North Star did not return phone calls seeking comments.

Though the case is not settled, the judge’s preliminary order is in part a victory for the tribal governments.


The state’s policy was insufficient because it proposed no timeline, leaving that up to the scheduling of the courts, Davis said. Getting a hearing can take far too long, sometimes leaving a child in the mental hospital long after they should have been released, said Davis.

The girl had caused alarm after it was believed she had overdosed on antidepressants, leading to a trip to the hospital emergency room in the hub city of Bethel. There, the girl showed no physical signs of overdosing and the girl’s foster mother found the bottle of pills the next day.


D.S. was held for 38 days, while J.S. was held for 47 days, Davis said. They were released after a Superior Court judge said they shouldn’t be there, he said.

“The process isn’t working when it takes weeks and weeks to have a hearing,” Davis said.

In his order, the judge wants the parties by March 12 to recommend the appropriate length of time to hold minors before a court can weigh in.

Davis said he will argue that minors, just like adults, should not be involuntarily held longer than 72 hours without a court’s input. That is more than enough time to determine whether a minor is being improperly held at the hospital, he said.

Bookman, of the OCS, said a child admitted by a guardian is in a situation different from that of an involuntarily admitted adult, so 72 hours may not be appropriate. He said he would “talk to OCS about it, do some research and come up with a position.”

Monday, February 23, 2015

Psychiatrist Settles Pleads Guilty and Settles Civil Claims

As seen on the Illinois Nursing Home Abuse Blog


A few months ago, an Illinois psychiatrist was suspended indefinitely from practicing because of his alleged abuse of an antipsychotic drug called clozapine. Dr. Michael J. Reinstein prescribed clozapine to more than half of his patients at nursing homes as well as mental health facilities. Clozapine is used to keep patients sedated when they become irritable or violent – many of them suffer from dementia or other ailments, and antipsychotic drugs such as clozapine are used to hold them down. Such drugs can be considered an unacceptable form of chemical restraint that advocates have fought against in recent years in favor of more humane methods that avoid drug dependency.

Constant drug use by patients as prescribed can put them in a stupor and can hasten their mental and/or physical demise. Clozapine adversely affects the immune system by diminishing white blood cells, and can cause heart inflammation, seizures, and problems with the blood, as well as dizziness and lightheadedness. As we profiled earlier in this space, clozapine itself is one of the most dangerous types of antipsychotic medications, and is considered “a risky drug of last resort.” Historically, Dr. Reinstein was alleged to have prescribed more clozapine in a single year (2007) than all medical providers in the large state of Texas combined, and has had patients die in the past while on substantial doses of clozapine.

Charges, Guilty Plea and Settlement

Reinstein was also accused of taking about $350,000 in kickbacks, including gifts (like travel and dinners) from a clozapine manufacturer, Teva Pharmaceuticals, which is against the law. Teva already settled with the government over those kickback allegations. The government also sued Reinstein for taking kickbacks to prescribe clozapine, and for submitting possibly more than 140,000 false claims (overbilling) for reimbursement for these treatments from the federally funded programs Medicare and Medicaid. This type of Medicare/Medicaid fraud is prosecuted civilly and criminally under the False Claims Act, and such allegations are very serious. In recent news, Reinstein, already dealing with a suspended license and a civil suit from the government for taking kickbacks and committing medication fraud, has been charged criminally by the United States for taking kickbacks from the clozapine drug maker.

As reported by the Chicago Tribune, the criminal charges have been brought on a single kickback worth $2,000, but the government was reportedly looking to take back approximately $600,000 worth of “ill-gotten gains stemming from clozapine prescriptions.” Just days ago, Reinstein pled guilty to the federal charge of accepting kickbacks for prescribing clozapine against the Medicare and Medicaid Anti-Kickback Statute. His sentencing date is as yet unscheduled, but the please agreement includes a recommendation of 18.5 months behind bars. Along with the guilty plea, Reisnstein settled the civil case with both the Justice Department and the State of Illinois (which later joined the federal government in that suit) for $3.79 million, settling claims that he accepted kickbacks to prescribe clozapine and then submitted an astounding amount of false claims for reimbursement.


This case demonstrates the importance of cracking down on Medicare and Medicaid fraud, as well as companies and medical providers engaging in kickback schemes. This is an illegal way to “get rich” at the expense of patients who are not prescribed what they need or do not receive the appropriate treatment because doctors are prescribing medications as part of the kickback scheme. This case also highlights the abuse of federal taxpayer dollars through reimbursement claims. And above all, it puts the spotlight on the abuse of medications for chemical restraints, and how we must continue moving toward alternative methods.

"They said if I kept making noise, they would drag me into the mental-health ward and diagnose me as having mental illness."

As reported by the CBC, with much more including a video report and documentation at the link

You can also see the video here

Another case of a person being diagnosed as mentally ill for the convenience of the doctors, not to help the patient. Apparently they wanted to put here on anti-psychotics to shut her up.

Alice Zhang says she's being denied a life-saving kidney transplant because doctors at Vancouver General Hospital have decided she is mentally ill.

The 45-year-old mother of two, who speaks only Cantonese, and her family say she has no history of mental illness, and that she was only removed from the transplant list for complaining about her treatment in the hemodialysis unit.

"That's what started this whole situation" Zhang, speaking through an interpreter, told CBC Investigates.

She said doctors threatened to admit her involuntarily under the Mental Health Act.

"They said if I kept making noise, they would drag me into the mental-health ward and diagnose me as having mental illness."

Zhang said that is where she ended up on two occasions.

Polycystic kidney disease

Zhang has polycystic kidney disease. She shares custody of her boys, aged nine and 11 years old.

She needs hemodialysis three times a week, and has been on the kidney transplant list since 2009.

She said a sudden diagnosis of delusional disorder came right after she filed written complaints that nurses were too rough on her injection site.

"They said, 'Right now, we are going to temporarily stop the transplant process,'" said Zhang. Hospital documents confirm that the process was halted.

"Because I complained about them, they said that to me."

According to a psychiatrist’s handwritten notes, Zhang was paranoid.

Difficult but not delusional, says family

Zhang's husband, from whom she is separated, believes doctors are misinterpreting her actions.

"If they don't even understand what she's saying, how can they say she has a mental illness?" said Lea Kwong Chow.

"This person doesn't really have great social skills. Just because of that, you can't say they have a mental illness."

Chow said that in the nearly 20 years he has known Zhang, she has never shown any signs of paranoia.

While a translator attends most appointments, Chow and Zhang said there are many informal interactions without one.

In October, the psychiatrist's handwritten note to Zhang raised concern that she was following a nurse.

"You were asking about her last name. This was interpreted as concerning behaviour," the note said.

The notes show Zhang tried to explain she had been asked to find out the nurse's last name by her lawyer, something he confirmed in a letter to Vancouver Coastal Health.

The same psychiatrist wrote, "The fact that you believe that the nurses are trying to harm you tells me that you have a mental illness ... the nurses are starting to feel threatened by you. Some of this has to do with your complaints about them."

But Zhang — who refused to take prescribed anti-psychotic drugs — said she has never said anyone tried to hurt her on purpose.

"I have never been the suspicious type," she said. "I believe they have violated my human rights."

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Big Pharma Is America’s New Mafia

We just came across this well documented column in the Daily Beast

Here's a snippet:

“Much of what the drug industry does fulfills the criteria for organized crime in US law,” Dr. Gotzsche said in a recent interview. “And they behave in many ways like the mafia does, they corrupt everyone they can corrupt, they have bought every type of person, even including ministers of health in some countries… The drug industry buys the professors first, then chiefs of departments, then other chief physicians and so on, they don’t buy junior doctors.”

Gotzsche isn’t the only one accusing pharmaceutical companies of wrongdoing beyond the marketing malfeasance they’re famous for. In Australia, during the Vioxx class action suit brought against Merck, company emails were released revealing that Merck employees planned to “neutralize” and “discredit” doctors who criticized the drug. “We may need to seek them out and destroy them where they live,” a Merck employee wrote, according to The Australian. Apparently, uncooperative physicians were targeted to lose academic appointments and research funding for telling the truth about the negative side effects they observed.

This is troubling—but even more so in light of the fact that it’s now widely accepted that prescription drugs can be dangerous and over the years dozens have been recalled. “Our prescription drugs are the third leading cause of death after heart disease and cancer. Our drugs kill around 200,000 people in America every year, and half of these people die while they do what their doctors told them—so they die because of the side-effects,” said Dr. Gotzsche in his recent interview. “The other half die because of errors—and it’s often the doctors that make the errors because any drug may come with 20, 30 or 40 warnings, contraindications, precautions…and then the patients die.”

This is a hard pill for any of us to swallow. We should be able to trust our doctors, who should in turn be able to trust “the science.” As amusing as Oliver’s “epic takedown” of doctors was, the trouble isn’t physicians prescribing a new drug because a drug rep brings us a platter of tacos, the problem is whether the drugs we have to choose from are truly safe and effective in the first place.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Excited Man Only Two Therapy Sessions Away From Resolving Issues [Satire]

A classic bit of Satire from the Onion on the ability (or inability) of psychiatrists to actually cure someone of anything

After over seven years of weekly meetings with his psychiatrist, 35-year-old Chris Vaughan told reporters Friday he is thrilled to be just two 45-minute sessions away from completely resolving all of his problems.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Patient at Cavan hospital given ECT without proper medication

From a Report in the Irish Times

Inspectors at a psychiatric unit in Cavan General Hospital investigated a “serious” incident where a patient was administered electro-convulsive therapy (ECT) without the required muscle relaxant medication.

An unannounced inspection was carried out at the acute psychiartirc unit of the hospital on June 3rd and 4th 2014 .

Inspection of one individual clinical file found a detained patient had consented to a course of electroconvulsive therapy treatment.

The anaesthetist failed to administer the required muscle relaxant medication before one of the treatment sessions.

The medical record stated that the patient has complained of joint stiffness and that the consultant psychiatrist would inform the patient of the drug administration error.

“However, there was no record in the patient’s clinical file that this adverse incident has been discussed with the patient,” the report said.

At the request of the inspectors, a review report in relation to the incident was provided.

Inspectors said there was no record in the of the event entered in the incident log or reviewed by all relevant clinical personnel and the manager.

“The clinical governance in response to this incident appeared to be lax” the report said.

The Inspectorate Mental Health Services immediately requested a report on the incident from the clinical director and notified the Mental Health Commission of this “matter of serious concern”.

While it is good news that ECT is on the the decline, it is shocking that not only is it still practiced in Ireland, but that they cannot even follow their own safety rules

Lawsuit describes string of sex assaults at Seattle Children's Hospital - Hospital staff failed to help girl abused in psychiatric ward

From a report in Seattle PI

Much more information at the link

A former patient at Seattle Children’s Hospital has sued, claiming hospital staff failed to notice as she was repeatedly, sexually assaulted by another patient.

Attorneys for the young woman claim at least three other children have been sexually abused at the Laurelhurst neighborhood facility in recent years. Despite assurances of reform from hospital managers, they contend too little is being done to protect children there.

Writing the court, attorneys Steve Berman and Marty McLean said their client was just one of an unknown number of children abused while locked in Children’s inpatient psychiatric unit.

“Sadly, (she) is not the first child-patient who was sexually victimized while admitted,” Berman said in the lawsuit, which was filed earlier this week. “Publically available records confirm that (she) was at least the fourth patient in a five-year span to have been sexually victimized while under (Children’s) care and custody.”

Berman, a nationally prominent attorney specializing in class-action lawsuits, went on to say he believes “there are more children who have been victimized, as well.”

A spokeswoman for Seattle Children’s declined to comment on the lawsuit. Attorneys for the University of Washington-affiliated nonprofit have not yet responded to the allegations in court.

Psychiatrist William Lewek Pleads Guilty to Hiding Matthew Straton's Body

As reported by Time Warner Cable News in Rochester, NY.

A guilty plea today from the Rochester psychiatrist accused of hiding the body of Matthew Straton in his backyard.

William Lewek, 62, pleaded guilty to tampering with physical evidence and driving while ability impaired.

Lewek was arrested in January of 2014 after investigators found the body of Matthew Straton partially buried in the backyard of his Rowley Street home. Straton dissappeared in October of 2013. Today's plea follows months of legal proceedings including an application for Lewek to enroll in a Judicial Diversion Program for drug treatment.

The trial was scheduled to begin Monday.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Third patient death in 13 months at boutique psychiatric rehab center Sierra Tucson

From an extended report from the Arizona Daily Star

Sounds like this boutique psychiatric center for the well to do has a history of grabbing for the money and cutting corners for fun and profit.

Many more details at the link

A third patient in 13 months has died while in treatment at the Sierra Tucson center north of Tucson, an autopsy report says.

The report from the Pinal County Medical Examiner’s Office released last week says a 55-year-old Pennsylvania man hanged himself with a belt in his room at Sierra Tucson on Jan. 23.

According to the report, the man had been on suicide watch and he left a suicide note inside a tote bag next to his bed. Witnesses told investigators that he was discovered in his room, “unconscious but still breathing,” two hours after staff began looking for him, the report says.

The suicide is the third patient death at Sierra Tucson since January 2014 and the fourth since August 2011.

Autopsies determined two of the patient deaths to be suicides and two as undetermined. The deceased patients, all male, ranged in age from 20 to 71.


The upscale, nationally known Sierra Tucson facility is situated on a 160-acre site at 39580 S. Lago del Oro Parkway along the Pinal/Pima County border. It has 124 beds, plus 15 acute level beds.

In the latest case a married father of two, who had checked into Sierra Tucson on Jan. 4 for severe depression and chronic pain due to neuropathy, was found dead in his room at 12:41 p.m. Jan. 23.


The facility has programs to help patients with addictions, mood disorders, chronic pain, eating disorders and trauma through its “Sierra Model” of integrating therapies such as massage, yoga and acupuncture with traditional psychiatry. Most patients are in their late 30s and early 40s. A majority of patients self-pay at a cost of about $1,300 per day.


The state has reprimanded Sierra Tucson numerous times since 2009 for failing to follow its own policies on patient care

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Jurors to decide fate of South Florida psychiatrist, others in Medicare fraud trial

Highlights from an extended report in the Miami Herald

Barry Kaplowitz was a psychiatrist with a “robotic” signature who signed off on thousands of bogus treatments at a Hollywood psychiatric facility that bilked Medicare for millions — even when he was out of the country, prosecutors say.

“It’s not just any kind of signing; it’s robo-signing,” Justice Department prosecutor Andrew Warren declared during closing arguments at his Miami federal trial.


On Tuesday, Miami federal jurors resumed deliberating the fate of Kaplowitz, 54, an Aventura psychiatrist who worked part-time as the medical director of Hollywood Pavilion’s outpatient facility, and two other defendants on charges of conspiring to defraud Medicare and related offenses.


The other defendants are Melvin Hunter, 63, a Broward resident who worked as an admissions supervisor for Hollywood Pavilion’s inpatient facility, and Tiffany Foster, 49, an Alabama resident accused of taking bribes to refer mental health patients.

A fourth defendant, Christopher Gabel, 62, of Davie, the former chief operating officer, pleaded guilty in November to conspiring to commit healthcare fraud and pay kickbacks to patient recruiters. Gabel, who is serving a six-year prison term, testified that Medicare beneficiaries — including drug addicts with disability status — were admitted regardless of whether they qualified for treatment or even saw a doctor.

The latest trial followed the 2013 conviction of Hollywood Pavilion's chief executive officer, Karen Kallen-Zury, of Lighthouse Point, who was found guilty along with three other employees of conspiring to bilk $67 million from Medicare by filing phony claims for mental health services from 2003 to 2012. Medicare was tricked into paying $40 million to Hollywood Pavilion. Of those defendants, Kallen-Zury received the longest sentence: 25 years.

During the six-week trial, prosecutors presented evidence showing that Kaplowitz generated $6.5 million in false claims for Medicare patients who did not need psychiatric treatment, resulting in $3 million in tainted income for Hollywood Pavilion between 2008 and 2011. The psychiatrist was paid $1,250 a month over that period for showing up one day a week to sign charts and other paperwork to justify 2,800 false claims to Medicare, prosecutors said.


The prosecution of Kaplowitz, Hunter and Foster was the latest crackdown by the Justice Department and U.S. attorney's office against operators of mental-health facilities accused of fleecing the Medicare program.

Three previous major prosecutions led to the convictions of about 100 clinic operators, doctors, therapists and patient recruiters at American Therapeutic, Biscayne Milieu and Health Care Solutions Network in South Florida.

Several of those convicted defendants testified at the latest trial. Among them: Dr. Alan Gumer, a former medical director at the Hollywood Pavilion facility who is serving a 21/2-year sentence in the American Therapeutic case, and Keith Humes, a Hollywood Pavilion patient recruiter who is serving a seven-year prison sentence stemming from another Medicare fraud offense.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Psychiatrist Dr. Francisco J. Pages Called 'Clueless' About Drugs

As reported by WUSF News

Another corrupt shrink on the drug company payroll

A long-time Miami-area psychiatrist who prescribes heavy-duty drugs in abundance has not been doing it safely, the Florida Board of Medicine said Friday.

Dr. Francisco J. Pages, charged with mismanaging the care of nine patients, needs to be evaluated to see what his knowledge level is, the board decided at a meeting in Stuart. Pages needs training to make up the deficits and close supervision by another psychiatrist for at least two years, the board said.

“I’m not sure this physician understands the multiple medications he’s prescribing,” said board member Dr. Bernardo Fernandez of Coral Gables. “Some of these patients are on seven, even 10 medications. Sometimes he prescribes a medication that counteracts the medications (the patient is) already on.”

Dr. Zach Zachariah of Fort Lauderdale pulled no punches. “If you look at this case, it portrays a physician who is clueless, absolutely clueless,” he said.

Pages said very little, leaving that to his attorney.

“Uninsured, homeless citizens rely on Dr. Pages. He sees the patients no one else truly wants to see,” the lawyer, Philip Goss, said.

Goss said that while his client was “embarrassed” to be called before the Board of Medicine, he sees his problems not as lack of skill but as “improper record-keeping and lack of attention to detail.”

The Board of Medicine didn’t buy it. “It’s not inattention to detail,” said Dr. Sarvam TerKonda of Jacksonville. “It’s inappropriate prescribing.”

Regardless of their status, patients deserve the proper medicine, said Dr. Fernandez.


The board rejected a settlement negotiated between Pages and the Florida Department of Health as being insufficient. To the original terms -- a reprimand, $25,000 fine, some courses and two years’ probation – the board added an evaluation of Pages’ skills by a special team from University of Florida.

Technically, the psychiatrist could reject that offer and insist on a formal hearing, but attorney Goss said after the hearing that Pages would probably accept it.

The psychiatrist, who used to have an office, now practices only in hospitals, Goss said. He did not say which ones. The state DOH web site lists him as having privileges at six hospitals, but the list is clearly out of date since one of them has closed.

Pages was reported to DOH by the state Agency for Health Care Administration after his Medicaid prescribing patterns caused alarm, state records show. Pages lost the right to participate in the Medicaid program.

But not Medicare. Pages showed up as a fairly prolific prescriber for Medicare patients in ProPublica’s "Dollars for Docs” project, in which reporters analyzed the prescriptions filled for Medicare patients in 2012. ProPublica's searchable database shows Pages was responsible for about 15,000 claims for about 1,000 patients at a cost of $3 million. Among Florida psychiatrists, some wrote more prescriptions, but only one cost taxpayers more.

Pages is among the doctors who received money as a consultant for pharmaceutical companies, according to the ProPublica database. His two largest benefactors were Eli Lilly, which paid him about $20,000 for speaking in 2009-10, and Pfizer, from which he received about $16,000 in 2010 and smaller amounts in recent years, since the state investigation of his prescribing patterns began.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Man sentenced to 17 years in prison for childmolestation of his own daughter. Judge outraged at the man's psychiatrist

As reported in the Daily Telegraph

The Judge in the case had especially harsh words for the psychiatrist assigned to the case.

A truck driver will spend at least 17 years in jail for the sexual abuse of his daughter in one of the longest sentences handed down to a paedophile father in Australia.

In sentencing the 49-year-old man, who cannot be named to protect the identity of his daughter, Judge Paul Conlon said it was what the community expected.


Judge Conlon, who has a ­reputation for handing down tough sentences to child sex offenders, said the truck driver had exploited her youth “in the worst possible way”.

“He has groomed his own daughter, turning her into his sexual play thing,” the judge said.

He was critical of psychiatrist Dr Olav Nielssen who told the court the repeated sexual abuse over seven years had been “opportunistic”.

Judge Conlon said the psychiatrist had seemed to treat “without any critical evaluation” the man’s comments that he had trouble “showing his feelings” to his daughter and had not known how to express himself.

“In my view, it is inappropriate to use the word ‘opportunistic’ when dealing with persistent sexual abuse of a child over a period of seven years. I am unable to have much confidence in this future risk assessment,” Judge Conlon said.

His daughter, now 28, went to Queensland police in 2007. The ­father was sentenced in Queensland to a maximum of four years with a non-parole term of just one year four months after telling the psychiatrist that “he and his daughter had a very close and open relationship and that he really loved her”.

He had pleaded guilty to three counts of raping his daughter.


Psychiatrist Tanveer Ahmed sacked by the Australian over new plagiarism allegation

As reported in the Guardian

Many more details at the story link

The psychiatrist and columnist Tanveer Ahmed has been sacked by the Australian for plagiarism – just two years after being dropped by the Sydney Morning Herald for a series of similar cases.

Ahmed was exposed by ABC TV’s Media Watch in 2012 and consequently lost his regular spot as a commentator for Fairfax Media.

On Monday the blogger Ketan Joshi accused Ahmed on Twitter of plagiarising the US political website Prospect in his latest article for the Australian, a controversial opinion piece on domestic violence.

The editor of the Australian, Clive Mathieson, told Guardian Australia he became aware of the accusation on Monday.

“When the Australian discovered it, we discussed it with Tanveer Ahmed and it was decided he would no longer be writing for us,” Mathieson said.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Chicago psychiatrist pleads guilty to taking drug kickbacks

As reported by ABC channel 7 in Chicago

A long-time Chicago psychiatrist pleaded guilty Friday to receiving illegal kickbacks and benefits totaling nearly $600,000 from pharmaceutical companies in exchange for prescribing an anti-psychotic drug to his patients.

Dr. Michael J. Reinstein, 71, of Skokie, has also agreed to pay $3.79 million to settle a civil lawsuit alleging that he caused the submission of at least 140,000 false Medicare and Medicaid claims for the thousands of patients he prescribed Clozapine to in nursing homes and other facilities in exchange for kickbacks.

"The defendant put his patients at great risk of serious health problems to benefit his personal interests at taxpayer expense," said Attorney General Lisa Madigan, whose office handled the civil litigation.

Reinstein's plea agreement calls for the government to recommend a sentence of 18.5 months in prison when he is sentenced.