When state social service workers asked a judge to hold their son Franklin against his will at Sunland Center, a North Florida institution for disabled people, Eddie and Charlotte Weekley handed him over voluntarily. ''They said it's a secure facility,'' Eddie Weekley said. ``They said my son would be safe there.'' Instead, they lost him. That was more than a year ago.
Franklin's medical records for 2001 show he was on two psychiatric drugs, Paxil and Topamax. The purpose of the drugs, records show: ``For behavior control.'' ''He stuttered,'' Eddie Weekley said. ``He couldn't talk.''
The Weekleys, and some caregivers, say they nevertheless understood what Franklin wanted. ''Franklin always wanted to go home,'' said Donna Fassett, executive director of The ARC Gateway in the Florida Panhandle, which offered services to Franklin before he was sent to Sunland.
On the evening of Dec. 5, 2002, a noticeably anxious Franklin called home, but was unable to reach his father, Charlotte Weekley said. When the father called back an hour or two later, workers at the institution refused to allow him to speak to Franklin. The next morning, Sunland administrators reported that Franklin was missing. They say he simply wandered out of the campus, which is surrounded by woods and does not have a fence. The Jackson County Sheriff's Office dispatched deputies on horseback, all-terrain vehicles and a helicopter in search of the teen.
Fassett said one Pensacola television station reported Franklin's story, but local newspapers showed little interest.
See this report to find out more about the story of this missing child.
Sunday, December 21, 2003
When state social service workers asked a judge to hold their son Franklin against his will at Sunland Center, a North Florida institution for disabled people, Eddie and Charlotte Weekley handed him over voluntarily. ''They said it's a secure facility,'' Eddie Weekley said. ``They said my son would be safe there.'' Instead, they lost him. That was more than a year ago.
Prescriptions of the psychiatric drug Ritalin to children have increased by almost 70% in the past four years in Scotland, heightening fears that a generation of ‘zombie’ youngsters is being created. Despite these fears, Scottish GPs are prescribing Ritalin and its generic equivalents to ever-increasing numbers of children. The latest Scottish Executive figures suggest there are 30,000 annual prescriptions of Ritalin-type drugs annually, up 68% on 1999.
As reported in the story at the link, MSP Adam Ingram, who asked health minister Malcolm Chisholm for the latest figures, said: "What is the reason for this huge increase? Is it an outbreak of ADHD, which I would doubt? Or is it just that people are saying let’s go down this road of managing children’s behaviour in this way?"
Wednesday, December 17, 2003
A senior executive with Britain's biggest drugs company has admitted that most prescription medicines do not work on most people who take them. Allen Roses, worldwide vice-president of genetics at GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), said fewer than half of the patients prescribed some of the most expensive drugs actually derived any benefit from them.
It is an open secret within the drugs industry that most of its products are ineffective in most patients but this is the first time that such a senior drugs boss has gone public. His comments come days after it emerged that the NHS drugs bill has soared by nearly 50 per cent in three years, rising by £2.3bn a year to an annual cost to the taxpayer of £7.2bn. GSK announced last week that it had 20 or more new drugs under development that could each earn the company up to $1bn (£600m) a year.
Drugs for Alzheimer's disease work in fewer than one in three patients, whereas those for cancer are only effective in a quarter of patients. Drugs for migraines, for osteoporosis, and arthritis work in about half the patients, Dr Roses said. Most drugs work in fewer than one in two patients mainly because the recipients carry genes that interfere in some way with the medicine, he said.
"The vast majority of drugs - more than 90 per cent - only work in 30 or 50 per cent of the people," Dr Roses said. "I wouldn't say that most drugs don't work. I would say that most drugs work in 30 to 50 per cent of people. Drugs out there on the market work, but they don't work in everybody."
This goes against a marketing culture within the industry that has relied on selling as many drugs as possible to the widest number of patients - a culture that has made GSK one of the most profitable pharmaceuticals companies, but which has also meant that most of its drugs are at best useless, and even possibly dangerous, for many patients.
Saturday, December 13, 2003
Insight Magazine has an excellent interview with Dr. Fred A. Baughman Jr, on the subject of ADHD
Retired California neurologist Fred A. Baughman Jr. fired off a letter in January 2000 to U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher in response to Satcher's Report on Mental Illness. "Having gone to medical school," Baughman wrote, "and studied pathology — disease, then diagnosis — you and I and all physicians know that the presence of any bona fide disease, like diabetes, cancer or epilepsy, is confirmed by an objective finding — a physical or chemical abnormality. No demonstrable physical or chemical abnormality: no disease!
"You also know, I am sure," Baughman continued, "that there is no physical or chemical abnormality to be found in life, or at autopsy, in 'depression, bipolar disorder and other mental illnesses.' Why then are you telling the American people that 'mental illnesses' are 'physical' and that they are due to 'chemical disorders?'"
Good article as a resource
Thursday, December 11, 2003
A disgraced Canadian psychologist who lost his licence to practise in the 1980s after having sex with anorexic patients is now facing charges of sexual misconduct in the United States.
David Garner, 56, considered one of the world's leading experts on eating disorders, has been accused by the Ohio Board of Psychology of 15 ethics violations. They include multiple counts of negligence, impairment and engaging in sexual misconduct since September 2001 with a woman Garner supervises at the River Centre Clinic in Sylvania, Ohio. He's also accused of buying a $108,000 US condominium for the woman, who says their relationship was consensual.
Ontario regulators stripped Garner of his licence in 1989 for having sexual relations with a patient while he operated an eating disorder clinic in Toronto. At the time, Garner was already serving a two-year suspension after having sex with an 18-year-old anorexic patient. The suspension was one of the most severe penalties handed out by the Ontario Board of Examiners of Psychology, forcing him to resign from the Toronto General Hospital and the University of Toronto.
Garner is now a director at the River Centre Clinic, which specializes in treating eating disorders, but he's stepped down in light of the newest accusations.
Monday, December 08, 2003
Ritalin use in preteen children may lead to depression later in life, studies of rats suggest.
It's an open question whether what passes for depression in lab rats has anything to do with depression in humans. But early use of Ritalin and other stimulant drugs seems to permanently alter animals' brains. That raises concerns that the same thing might be happening in children who take these drugs for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
The findings come from a research team led by William A. Carlezon Jr., PhD, director of the behavioral genetics laboratory at McLean Hospital and associate professor at Harvard Medical School. The study appears in the Dec. 15 issue of Biological Psychiatry.
See the NIH Press Release here
Monday, December 01, 2003
A British psychiatrist was doing research on possible dangers of antidepressant drugs when a representative of a drug manufacturer came to him with an offer of help. You're a busy guy, the company rep said. Here's some background on our product.
He e-mailed Dr. David Healy a finished 12-page review paper with graphs and footnotes, ready to present at an upcoming conference. And for convenience, Healy's name appeared as the sole author, even though the psychiatrist had never seen a single word of it before.
The drug company wanted its advertising to look like an independent study -- a "massive" scientific fakery that top medical journals condemn because it prevents doctors from getting the straight facts on medicines they prescribe.
Healy looked a gift horse in the mouth. Fearing the drug company was too easy on its own multimillion-dollar product, he did his own writing. But the ghostwritten paper appeared verbatim at the conference and in a psychiatric journal anyway -- under another doctor's name.
The drug industry is quietly paying "independent" doctors to sign their names to work they never did -- and keep their mouths shut.
"That of course is unbelievably corrupt and horrible," said Dr. Drummond Rennie, deputy editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Sunday, November 30, 2003
Jean Pierre Villar, a man in a fued with his neighbor, psychologist Holli Bodner, has run into financial problems when Bodner tried to have Villar commited for a forced mental exam under Florida Law.
On Nov. 14, Villar filed a complaint with the Sheriff's Office, alleging that his neighbor, psychologist Holli Bodner, lied on the form she filed to have him committed under the state's Baker Act. Deputies took him to Manatee Glens and then to Blake Medical Center, but he was released before being evaluated. Since then, he's hired a lawyer to prepare a suit against the Sheriff's Office and Bodner.
Jean Pierre Villar moved to Florida more than a year ago to get surgery and rehabilitation for a long-ignored work-related back injury. The incident with sheriff's deputies took place within weeks after the surgery.
After he was committed through the Baker Act, Villar's workers' compensation payments were cut off. The insurance company said his new injuries do not appear to be related to his construction work-related injury, but appear to be caused by the commitment, Bruce Zeidman, Villar's workers' compensation lawyer, said last month.
Villar says the deputies bent him over to restrain him, further damaging his back. The nerve damage spread from one leg to two and is attacking his left arm, causing uncontrollable shaking and "horrible pain," he said.
One wonder's watch the psych said to the cops to have a man in such obvious pain treated so roughly.
New Zealand parents of children prescribed methylphenidate for ADHD are selling it to supplement their state benefits. There is anecdotal evidence that children had been selling it at school. "There's quite a brisk illegal market for Ritalin. Methamphetamine and Ritalin are the biggest trend in drug use, and would be second behind cannabis."
New Zealand's use of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) drugs such as Ritalin is spiralling. Figures from government drug-buying agency Pharmac show 17 per cent more methylphenidate â€“ commonly known at Ritalin and Rubifen â€“ was dispensed in the 12 months ended July than in the previous year. Thirty-three times more methylphenidate is now dispensed to treat children with ADHD than there was a decade ago when estimates suggested only 242 patients were receiving the drug. Many patients are now likely to be prescribed both short- and long-acting strengths and hold two prescriptions. Now Pharmac estimates 5550 patients are taking ADHD drugs â€“ up 15 per cent on last year.
Health experts spoken to by The Press are unconcerned at the increased prescribing of methylphenidate but do worry about its illicit use through the black market. Parents selling drugs prescribed for their behaviourally troubled children are fuelling the black market trade in Ritalin.
National Addiction Centre director and psychiatrist Associate Professor Doug Sellman said the more methylphenidate was used for ADHD, the more families would trade it. "The temptation to sell Johnny's medication is stronger in poorer families, and ADHD tends to be found more in lower socio-economic families."
According to this article in the Telegraph, psychopaths such as serial killers are twice as likely to reoffend after treatment in British prison rehabilitation programs as psychopaths who do not take part in such programs.
Dr Robert Hare, a Canadian professor of psychology who has studied psychopaths for 35 years, believes that participating in such courses actually increases the chances that a psychopath will reoffend when he gets out.
Within two years of their release, psychopaths who go on such courses reoffend at almost twice the rate as those who do not. More than 80 per cent of the psychopaths who complete therapeutic courses reoffend soon after release. However, fewer than half of those who do not undergo such courses go on to reoffend.
Yet the offenders who had been on the therapy courses had convinced prison and psychiatric staff that they had "genuinely addressed their own offending behaviour", and were "responding positively to therapy". Indeed, those offenders who were most successful at convincing their therapists that they had gained insight into their own behaviour and changed for the better actually went on to reoffend at the highest rates.
"The psychiatric profession and its associates are very reluctant to admit they are wrong or that they have made a mistake, let alone to accept that they have been conned by a psychopath," says Dr Hare. "Therapists tend to insist that their diagnosis was right at the time and on the evidence they had - even when that is manifestly disproved by subsequent events."
So it looks like they just get really good at learning the psycho-babble jargon, and thus are more expert at manipulating the therapists.
This speaks volumes about the effectiveness of the therapists and the "science" they practice.
Saturday, November 29, 2003
As seen in the New Hampshire Telegraph
An older, inexpensive drug is as effective/ineffective at treating the symptoms of schizophrenia as a newer, more popular drug that costs about 100 times more, according to a new report. The study, published in Wednesday’s issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, also found no difference in quality of life between those given the newer drug, olanzapine, and those given the older drug, haloperidol, plus another drug to control side effects. Haloperidol treatment was $3,000 to $9,000 cheaper per patient in annual costs, depending on how expenses were measured.
So we see that the major advantage to the newer drugs is their benefit to the corporate profit margin.
Wednesday, November 19, 2003
Five workers who made false accounting entries during a huge fraud at HealthSouth Corp. kept silent out of fear after realizing the company was buying guns, grenades and spy equipment, according to testimony Wednesday at the first sentencing in the case.
While not specifically a psychiatric fraud case, it does reveal the criminal nature of some in the health care industry. Read the full story here.
Monday, November 17, 2003
The Deseret News has this report on the safety issues at state psychiatric hospital facilities in Utah. One on the major elements is that the facilities are not really trying to help people, but are acting more like prisons in disguise instead. The story offers extensive details on the horror story. This is about dangers to both the patients and the staff. Do they even know what they are doing?
According to this new article on About.com, more clinical and counseling psychology practices are going out of business than ever before. This, combined with increasing numbers of graduates in the filed, leads the website to offer cautionary advice to people looking to psychology as a career path. While the author is not ready to recommend people avoid studying psychology as a career path, he recommending that people look at other areas to help keep their career options open.
Thursday, November 13, 2003
This special report in the The Honolulu Star-Bulletin just came to our attention
Robert Kratzke initially believed that psychiatrist Martin H. Stein was "trying to do the best" for him, his wife and family. But less than five years after Stein began treating them with dozens of psychiatric drugs, Robert's wife, Anita, was dead, Robert had gone from a top engineer to "a vegetable on the couch with a chemical lobotomy" and Chris, his youngest son, had been on 23 prescribed drugs in five years.
Mr. Kratzke and his sons are recovering, and have filed a malpractice lawsuit against Stein over Anita's death.
Tuesday, November 11, 2003
Asia's mental heath centers look more like prisons than hospitals. Everyone should check out the Time Asia photoessay which exposes this travesty.
Read the story here
It is truly a hell hole.
Monday, November 10, 2003
A follow up to the earlier story:
A doctor at a state mental health facility changed patients' medications last year so that they would be eligible for a study of a new psychiatric drug, violating basic guidelines for research on human subjects and causing dangerous side effects in a 43-year-old man with schizophrenia, a state investigation has found.
The Disabled Persons Protection Commission uncovered numerous ethical violations at the Solomon Carter Fuller Mental Health Center by Boston Medical Center physicians contracted to treat patients there.
According to a DPPC report, patients' medications were switched without informed consent and without a clear medical need, the changes were made more than two months before the human-studies review boards approved the research protocol, and the patients involved were clearly not eligible under the criteria for the study, which specified that subjects be outpatients.
One of the four patients whose medication was switched, a man who had been stable for 10 years on the drug Clozaril, became so ill and acutely psychotic that he spent months in and out of hospital wards. He was diagnosed with neuroleptic malignant syndrome, a rare, sometimes lethal side effect of medication changes, according to the commission's report.
The names of doctors involved were deleted from the commission report, but Department of Mental Health officials and Hughes acknowledged their identities. According to the Globe story the Doctors involved are Dr. Douglas Hughes and Dr. Valentina Jalynytchev.
This story in today's Boston Globe cite the rapid decline of a patient under psych care
Medical records from the Solomon Carter Fuller Mental Health Center tell the story of a profoundly disabled patient who was ushered into a clinical trial during a single conversation: On Oct. 31, 2002, Dr. Valentina Jalynytchev sat down with the 43-year-old patient and, as she noted in a progress report, "discussed . . . clinical trial of [Risperdal]," and agreed that he would participate, according to a state report. [...]
In her notes of Oct. 31, Jalynytchev concludes that the patient was enthusiastic about starting Risperdal, which does not require regular blood tests, as Clozaril does: "He will start Risperidone . . . any time soon [it is his treatment plan], but for the study his guardian . . . needs to sign a consent form."
In fact, his treatment plan included other antipsychotic medications but not Risperdal. No call was made to his guardian. But he was started on Risperdal five days later, on Nov. 4, 2002. [...]
Which was just the start of a long, sad, horror story.
The switch in medications was the beginning of a long slide. [...] When the patient returned to the Fuller [after a trip to the emergency room] in March, he was so sensitive to antipsychotic medication that he could take only tiny doses. Doctors prescribed electroconvulsive therapy.
Berit Kjos has an interesting collection of of well documented articles investigating the agenda of the mental health crowd. She entitles it the Does Your 'Mental Health' Meet Global Standards? Series.
Article One: Legalizing Mind Control
Article Two: Legalizing Mind Control 2
Therw are links to other articles as well. While you may not agree with her particular biases, the quotes are well documented, and raise the interesting question of whose global standards are they, anyhow? As she notes:
Good medical doctors naturally encourage prevention. They would want their patients to maintain health and strength. But when socialist "change agents" step into the picture with their psycho-social brainwashing strategies -- calling their agenda "prevention" in order to gain your approval -- they bring oppression instead of peace.
It gets into questions like: What agenda are they pushing. and whose should it be? She introduces one of her articles with a quote from Betrand Russle, from a book published back in 1953:
"...the subject which will be of most importance politically is Mass Psychology.... The populace will not be allowed to know how its convictions were generated. When the technique has been perfected, every government that has been in charge of education for a generation will be able to control its subjects securely without the need of armies or policemen. As yet there is only one country which has succeeded in creating this politician's paradise." -- Bertrand Russell, The Impact of Science on Society (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1953); page 30.)
So whose agenda is it?
Sunday, November 09, 2003
As seen in the SF Chronicle
the concept of a white, blond-haired, blue-eyed master Nordic race didn't originate with Hitler. The idea was created in the United States, and cultivated in California, decades before Hitler came to power. California eugenicists played an important, although little-known, role in the American eugenics movement's campaign for ethnic cleansing. [...]
Eugenics would have been so much bizarre parlor talk had it not been for extensive financing by corporate philanthropies, specifically the Carnegie Institution, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Harriman railroad fortune. They were all in league with some of America's most respected scientists from such prestigious universities as Stanford, Yale, Harvard and Princeton. These academicians espoused race theory and race science, and then faked and twisted data to serve eugenics' racist aims.
a worthy read
Saturday, November 08, 2003
Nearly one in four French people are on tranquillisers, antidepressants, antipsychotics or other mood-altering prescription drugs, according to an alarming report published this past week. It revealed that an average of 40% of men and women aged over 70 in France were routinely prescribed at least one of this class of dependence-creating drug, as well as some 4% of all children under nine. The French are plainly not sicker than anyone else: according to recent survey, while 9% of them were prescribed antidepressants in 2000, only 4.7% could be clinically diagnosed as suffering from depression.
So what gives?
Friday, November 07, 2003
A psychiatrist who helped prosecutors sentence a Charlotte, NC man to death for killing his aunt has retracted her testimony. Las Vegas psychiatrist Cynthia White said her testimony was erroneous and that the state withheld information from her. White testified against convicted murderer John Daniels. Her latest statements were from an affidavit released by Daniels' lawyer on Thursday.
Thursday, November 06, 2003
A former worker at a Las Vegas psychiatric center has plead innocent to fondling a teenage girl under his care. Police say 29-year-old Barry Bergmann faces 27 charges of sexual assault after a girl transferred from the Spring Mountain Treatment Center to another facility and told counselors there that Bergmann fondled her and had her remove her clothes. Authorities say the girl is under 16 years old. A Spring Mountain official says Bergmann no longer works there.
Tuesday, November 04, 2003
A marketing scheme that involved sending unsolicited fluoxetine (Prozac) in the mail has led to a lawsuit in the US state of Florida against a local hospital, the drug’s manufacturer (Eli Lilly), and Walgreen, a major US pharmacy chain. We missed this in the states. This report is via the British medical Journal
Monday, November 03, 2003
Forcing individuals to undergo psychiatric treatment in and of itself will not lead to use of fewer health services or reduce the risk of readmission, reported researchers at the 53rd Annual Meeting of the Canadian Psychiatric Association, held October 30th to November 2nd in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. The study, which included all community-based and inpatient psychiatric services in Western Australia, examined whether community treatment orders (CTOs) had any effect on the use of mental health services. Study participants were matched on discharge date, socio-demographic factors, clinical features and psychiatric history.
End result? The researchers found that CTO cases (forcebly treated) had significantly higher readmission rates (73%) compared to the other two groups (57% and 65%),
So if the commitment is forced, the readmission rate is much higher.....
A psych jailed for a depraved sex attack has been charged with indecent assault weeks after being freed pending his appeal. Psychiatrist Darren Holdsworth was arrested after being released from prison where hewas serving three years for attacking a teenage girl.
Holdsworth, 37, is alleged to have carried out thelatest assault in a Glasgow pub. Hewas let out of jail in August after launching anappeal against the sentence he received last November. Hewas jailed for three years andtold hewould beplacedundersupervision for two years after his release.
This story in the Tallahassee Democrat details the efforts of marketing reps to expand the markets of drugs like Prozac by handing out samples to regular physicians who are not familar with the side effects. By offering specialty drugs to nonspecialists, sending salesmen to doctors' offices and medical conventions, and touting their drugs' benefits on the slimmest of evidence, pharmaceutical companies have sent off-label retail sales soaring. Documented is one case where a heart specialist gave a man Prozac, with the man committing suicide less than 2 weeks later, to the horror of the heart specialist.
Australian Psychologist Susan Maureen Robinson, of Sherwood, has been referred to the Health Practitioners' Tribunal by the Psychologists Board of Queensland to answer allegations of unsatisfactory professional conduct. As a former prison psychologist, she could have her licence cancelled or suspended after being accused of having an improper sexual relationship with a former inmate. The Australian Psychological Society code of ethics states a minimum of two years must pass between the end of a professional client-practitioner relationship before the start of an intimate relationship, and the psychologist must prove the relationship does not exploit the former client.
Sunday, November 02, 2003
Health and safety experts have been called in at Wishaw General Hospital [in England] after 62 falls were recorded in one ward in just 10 months. The safety probe centres on Ward 3, which houses around 23 elderly psychiatric patients. Official hospital figures show 47 patients suffered falls on the ward during a five-month period in 2002.
A spokesman for Lanarkshire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs the hospital, said: "Discussions have been taking place with the Health and Safety Executive but there has been no instruction to remove the flooring in Ward 3, which is the same throughout Wishaw General."
One hospital worker said: "Most of the staff think there's a problem with the flooring. The patients there are extremely frail and I have lost count of the number of serious falls that have been recorded. It will cost the taxpayer a fortune if the flooring is found to be dangerous." An investigation has now been launched to find out whether the condition of the floor is putting patients and staff at risk.
Saturday, November 01, 2003
University of Georgia researchers have discovered developmental problems in frogs and fish exposed to minute quantities of common antidepressants that can pass from humans through sewage treatment systems into rivers and streams. The scientists have been studying the toxicity of a widely used group of antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, which are commonly prescribed for depression, anxiety, panic disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, eating disorders and social phobia. Some of the drugs, including Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil and Celexa, have been found in low concentrations in surface water, particularly wastewater.
Friday, October 31, 2003
The widow of a pensioner brutally killed by a schizophrenic yesterday said the "experts" who discharged her husband's killer from a mental hospital were as much to blame as the killer himself. A tearful Enid Dodd said Paul Khan should never be released.
She was speaking at a press conference after Khan was sentenced to life imprisonment for killing Brian Dodd in March this year. Mr Dodd was walking his dog at a car park in Prestatyn, North Wales when he was attacked by Khan and stabbed more than 30 times in the head, leaving him unrecognisable to his wife. Mrs Dodd blamed her husband's death on the tribunal that set Khan free.
She said, "If any of these so-called expert committees ever think of letting this man or anyone like him out on the street again, they should seriously think about what happened last time. If it wasn't for them, my beautiful husband would be alive today and I wouldn't have to live the rest of my life alone. Every morning and every night before I go to sleep I think how my husband was killed. I shall have to live with that for the rest of my life. This was a crime that could have been prevented. The people who agreed to discharge him are as much to blame as Paul Khan."
Thursday, October 30, 2003
Joanne Mallon, 40, was an employee at Creedmoor Psychiatric Center at the time of her arrest, has been charged with neglecting an 87-year-old Bayside [New York] woman under her care, leaving the Alzheimer’s victim in her own filth and her house in foul condition, according to the Queens DA’s office.
Mallon was arrested Aug. 22 and arraigned Oct. 13 on a misdemeanor charge of endangering the welfare of an incompetent person, said a spokeswoman for Queens District Attorney Richard Brown. Mallon faces up to a year in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000 if convicted, the DA spokeswoman said.
According to the district attorney’s criminal complaint, police responded to the home of the elderly woman on 56th Avenue and 214th Street Aug. 22 and found her house “in utter disarray, clothing piled throughout the residence from floor to ceiling, filth, stench and spoiled food.” The elderly woman, whom neighbors and friends identified as former St. Robert Bellarmine teacher Mary Rose Johnson, was found covered in feces, according to the complaint.
Mallon’s attorney, Maura Nicolosi, said she had worked for Johnson for several years. Nicolosi said the charges against her client would probably be dropped. “There is no medical proof to substantiate the claim that she was neglected,” the lawyer said.
A former Maine psychologist is going to jail for 30 days for having sex with a patient he was treating. Forrest Sherman, 54, of Rockport, was sentenced by Superior Court Justice John Atwood to two years in jail with all but 30 days suspended. He also was ordered to serve two years of probation. Sherman had pleaded guilty to one count of gross sexual assault for having sex with an adult patient. The victim said they had a sexual relationship between 1995 and 1997 in Sherman´s Rockport office and at his home. State law, citing the vulnerability of people seeking care from mental health professionals, stipulates that a psychiatrist, psychologist or licensed social worker can be charged for having sex with a patient. Sherman said in a state police affidavit that he had sex with the woman, who was 43 at the time, and that he received Medicaid reimbursements for the woman´s therapy visits. The victim won a settlement in a civil court case against Sherman.
According to an expert who testified Wednesday at a disciplinary hearing in Billings, Montana, psychologist Constance Reynolds not only broke laws and fundamental ethical guidelines, she put her clients' lives at risk by drawing them into a web of sexual and business relationships, according to an expert who testified Wednesday at a disciplinary hearing in Billings. The allegations against Reynolds include everything from having a sexual relationship with a client to buying a house from another client. The state wants to strip Reynolds of her license.
State administrative law judge Greg Hanchett is hearing evidence on the case this week. Despite objections from Reynolds' attorney, Hanchett kept the hearing open to the public. Following the hearing, he will issue a finding of fact, which will then be considered by the State Board of Psychology. The board has the ultimate power to revoke Reynolds' license and issue fines. Reynolds, who holds a doctoral degree, continues to operate her practice, Lifeworks, at 145 Grand Ave.
Many more details on this horror story at the link.
Wednesday, October 29, 2003
In Terre Haute, at Indiana State University, there are questions about a now defunct sex research lab run by former professor and psychologist Jerome Cerny. The Indiana Attorney General has suspended his license. "We felt that Dr. Cerny represented a clear and immediate danger to the public heath and safety become of the sexual allegations levied against him," said Deputy Indiana Attorney General Barclay Wong.
Professor Cerny was studying human sexual response in his male students but, according to civil lawsuits and state investigators, he stepped way over the line. He basically abuses his role as a supervisor and researcher towards these students," said Wong."The allegations are of both a physical and verbal nature." He allegedly touched the genitals of student subjects as he attached them to diagnostic machines. Even unwanted touching and grabbing in the hallways.
According to Wong, most of the people that Dr. Cerny molested were not official research participants. No consent forms had been signed. Cerny left Indiana State last year. He and the university now face civil suits.
Tuesday, October 28, 2003
As seen in these reports
The psychologist for a suburban school district has submitted his resignation following an uproar over a graphic image he showed during a presentation to a school training session in August. Psychologist Dan Pezzulo said the image of male genitalia, which also featured the superimposed head of Osama bin Laden, was intended to lighten the mood during a training session on confidentiality for about 350 teachers and administrators.
There were some snickers during the Aug. 21 presentation at the Gateway School District, but a number of teachers and members of the Family-Teacher Association said they were appalled. Pezzulo, who provided testing and counseling for kindergarten through 12th grade students, has been on unpaid leave since the incident. The school board will vote on his resignation Wednesday.
Pezzulo also has a private practice and has hosted a segment on a local cable television channel called "Tips From Dr. Dan." The segments featured messages to youths such as "Never Take a Guilt Trip Again."
"Never Take a Guilt Trip Again." [???] sounds like an under-developed sense of social responsibility to me. Another more detailed report here
Saturday, October 25, 2003
The New York TimeS (free reg required) has an excellent extended article on the efforts of psychiatrists and brain scientists to help marketers control your shopping impulses for fun and profit. They are using MRIs and every other tool to try to figure out how to make products more compulsively irresistable to the average consumer.
For all their admirable successes, neuroscientists do not yet have an agreed-upon map of the brain. ''I keep joking that I could do this Gucci shoes study, where I'd show people shoes I think are beautiful, and see whether women like them,'' says Elizabeth Phelps, a professor of psychology at New York University. ''And I'll see activity in the brain. I definitely will. But it's not like I've found 'the shoe center of the brain.'''
James Twitchell, a professor of advertising at the University of Florida, wonders whether neuromarketing isn't just the next stage of scientific pretense on the part of the advertising industry. ''Remember, you have to ask the client for millions, millions of dollars,'' he says. ''So you have to say: 'Trust me. We have data. We've done these neurotests. Go with us, we know what we're doing.''' Twitchell recently attended an advertising conference where a marketer discussed neuromarketing. The entire room sat in awe as the speaker suggested that neuroscience will finally crack open the mind of the shopper. ''A lot of it is just garbage,'' he says, ''but the garbage is so powerful.''
Doesn't stop them from trying
Friday, October 24, 2003
A new study has linked anti-depressants to 41 deaths as use of the drugs soars to record highs. Of the 200 poisoning deaths in New Zealand in 2001, antidepressants were involved in 41 cases and caused 23 deaths, a Dunedin Medical School study published in the New Zealand Medical Journal found. Study co-author and National Poisons Centre medical toxicologist John Fountain said drug overdose was the suspected cause in most of the 23 deaths attributed to antidepressants. The drugs were potent and had nasty effects on the heart if taken in overdose, Mr Fountain said.
In 2001, there were more than 1.5 million prescriptions for antidepressants in New Zealand – enough to treat about 100,000 patients for one year, or 3 per cent of the total population. Latest Pharmac figures show antidepressant use has more than doubled during the past decade, from 360,000 prescriptions for an estimated 90,000 users in 1993 to 740,000 prescriptions in the year to June, for an estimated 187,000 users.
While there was some recognition antidepressants could be associated with suicide, this had never before been quantified, Mr Fountain said.
Wednesday, October 22, 2003
Youth Empire Services in Illinois is under investigation for inappropriately billing child psychiatric services billed under the medicaid ID numbers of psychiatrists working for them. Most of the children served by YES are wards of the state. The agency provides support for foster parents and children, including psychiatric and psychological counseling. "Probably half the people on here, I've never seen, I've never met, I've never heard of," said one psychiatrist, referring to the list of alleged patients.
Extensive report at the link.
As reported on KCTV5 news:
A doctor who admitted prescribing drugs illegally will spend five years in prison without parole. Bruce N. Parsa, 40, an osteopathic psychiatrist from suburban Leawood, pleaded guilty in July to one count of conspiracy to distribute several prescription drugs. In June he pleaded guilty to four counts of using a revoked registration number to obtain drugs. U.S. Attorney Eric Melgren said Parsa was sentenced Monday by U.S. District Judge G. Thomas Van Bebber, who also ordered three years of probation after Parsa gets out of prison.
At the plea hearing Parsa admitted that between January 2000 and mid-December 2001, while working as a psychiatrist in Leawood and Leavenworth, he conspired with others to dispense a large quantity of amphetamines and narcotics. He also admitted issuing more than 200 prescriptions "outside the score of his professional practice and not for a legitimate medical purpose," some of them for his own use. Parsa's wife, Angela J. Parsa, also 40, was sentenced last month to three years of probation and fined $1,000. In July she pleaded guilty to one count of obtaining a fraudulent prescription.
Cosmo Cerrigone, barber to James Treffinger, was ordered yesterday to repay New Jersey's Essex County $57,000 for haircuts he never gave in a government job he rarely showed up for. Treffinger was sentenced last week to 13 months in prison on fraud and obstruction charges related to the investigation.
For nearly seven years, Cosmo Cerrigone, a popular 56-year-old Cedar Grove stylist, accepted a county salary that ranged as high as $17,000 to cut hair for psychiatric patients at the Essex County Hospital Center. The hospital is two miles from Vie Veneto, a men's salon where Cerrigone and his brother have wielded scissors, clippers and blow dryers for decades.
But Cerrigone rarely reported to the hospital. When confronted by the FBI in April 2002, he told agents the phantom job was a reward after he "agreed to use his substantial contacts in the community to secure votes for Treffinger," according to a presentencing memo prepared by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Perry Carbone and Nelson Thayer.
Tuesday, October 21, 2003
For three yeas a hospital ignored a flood of complaints and concerns about Dr Andrew Holton who misdiagnosed more than 600 children with epilepsy, an inquiry by Britain's Department of Health has found. During that time. Doctor Holton continued to diagnose children with epilepsy who did not have it and administer powerful and unnecessary drugs, the effect of which will leave permanent damage in some cases. Administrative records at the hospital were chaotic and there was no formal record of Dr Holton's training, allowing him to promote himself and be accepted as a paediatric neurologist even though he was not.
Nuerologists are not psychiatrists, but some come close enough to deserve scrutiny.
Monday, October 20, 2003
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They have an extensive collection of web pages giving information on the various side effects. Including, of course, psychiatric problems
Sunday, October 19, 2003
Reports of suicidal ideation and suicide attempts in pediatric patients receiving antidepressants for major depressive disorder will be discussed at a Feb. 2, 2004 joint meeting of FDA’s Psychopharmacologic Drugs Advisory Committee and the Pediatric Subcommittee of the Anti-Infective Drugs Advisory Committee. The committee will review the reports of suicidality from clinical trials of antidepressants and consider optimal approaches to analysis of the data. The group will also consider what regulatory action may be needed for clinical use of these products in pediatric patients and what further research is needed to address questions on the topic.
Interesting review in the Globe and Mail of the book Let Them Eat Prozac by By David Healy:
Before Prozac, few people risked getting depression. Now, it seems, we are all at risk. Better pay close attention, then, to David Healy's wonderfully perspicuous account of how a treatment can manufacture disease.
Of course, depression has always been with us, and Healy presents some moving stories of how this disease can blight the lives of those affected. The great boom in depressive illness, however, dates back only to the discovery and marketing of Prozac.
Prior to the 1990s, comparatively few people were thought to suffer from depression: perhaps one person in 10,000. With the discovery of the Prozac family of drugs there came, not coincidentally, an explosive increase in diagnoses of depressive illness.
Current estimates claim that one in 10 of the population is clinically depressed. A thousand-fold increase. In barely a decade, depression has gone from being a rare disorder to being classed as one of the greatest afflictions of humankind -- requiring that millions of comparatively healthy people be treated with powerful medication.
An old cliche jumps irresistibly to mind: To the man with a hammer in his hand, everything looks like a nail.
As the reviewer says:
There may be only 50 ways to leave your lover, but there are at least 150 ways to design drug experiments so that they are skewed in favour of the sponsoring company's products. From my own research on the ethics of clinical trials, I thought I knew all the tricks of the trade. I was mistaken. Healy has taught me some new ones.
Want to eliminate evidence of dangerous side effects from your new anti-depressant? [...] when volunteers enrolled in the experiment become agitated (and potentially suicidal or violent), code them as "failing to respond to treatment." Amazingly, by this simple sleight of hand, the alarming side effects disappear. What isn't recorded doesn't exist.
How much Prozac is too much?
Researchers at Baylor University have found traces of the pharmaceutical antidepressant in the livers, muscles and brains of game fish in a Denton County [Texas] creek, raising concerns about the welfare of the popular sports fish and people who eat them. The chemical is fluoxetine -- the primary component in Prozac. It likely came from a city of Denton wastewater treatment plant, which discharges into Pecan Creek and flows into Lake Lewisville in North Texas. Traces of the drug that are not absorbed into the body can flow down the toilet and through wastewater treatment plants, which are not designed to filter out pharmaceuticals.
This latest research comes on the heels of similar recent studies involving other drugs in the water. Research, for example, found that some male fish in Denton County are developing female characteristics because estrogen from prescription drugs is winding up in the water. The estrogen -- from birth control pills, hormone replacement therapy and other sources -- could reduce the fish population by rendering some males unable to breed.
So much is being prescribed that it is showing up in the wildlife? talk about pollution ...
Friday, October 17, 2003
Mental Disability Rights International [MDRI] is a non-governmental advocacy organization working for the international recognition and enforcement of the rights of people with mental disabilities.
As noted in this story on the increasing use of video journalism, a film co-produced with Witness, a group that has placed video cameras in the hands of human rights groups, recently led to the closure of several abusive psychiatric hospitals in Mexico.
They have a number of excellent publications available online
Thursday, October 16, 2003
Dr. Bennett Braun, a psychiatrist who was disciplined in Illinois has resumed his medical practice in Helena, Montana. Dr. Braun was disciplined for allegedly using drugs and hypnosis to convince a family it was involved in satanic and cannibalistic cults.
He said two years ago that he was fed up with his profession and would not return to it, but has since received his state physician's license in June and began soliciting patients Oct. 1st. The former Chicago-area doctor agreed to a two-year suspension of his medical license in October 1999 and five years probation after accusations by a former patient.
The Illinois Department of Professional Regulation filed a nine-count complaint against Braun that led to his license suspension. The complaint accused him of "dishonorable, unethical and unprofessional conduct." Braun said he didn't contest his license suspension and $5,000 fine because he was exhausted financially, emotionally and physically. He said he spent about $500,000 to initially fight the disciplinary case.
His malpractice insurer agreed to a multimillion-dollar settlement, and Braun has sued the company for $20 million, saying the deal was struck over his objections and in violation of his policy. Howard Brinton, Braun's attorney, said the case is before an Illinois appellate court.
Wednesday, October 15, 2003
As one doctor explained it: "People who've always had group health insurance are completely unprepared when they're forced to seek coverage in this (individual health insurance) market. They think they're going to get the same coverage they had in their jobs, except they'll just have to pay a little more money. It's absolutely not like that at all. The individual health insurance market is unpredictable, inconsistent and expensive."
An extensive article detailing the problems of individual health insurance. The costs for insurance for a fictional individual patient was all over the map.
Monday, October 13, 2003
A woman jailed for eight years for disposing of her murdered daughter’s body is to amend her appeal after it emerged her background court report was prepared by a psychologist who had lied about his qualifications. Lawyers acting for Tracy Reid are to raise questions about Gary Macpherson, a clinical psychologist whose report influenced the decision of the judge trying her case. He had falsely claimed to have a doctorate when he submitted court reports as an expert witness in other cases in 2000 and 2001. [...] Psychological reports on Reid were prepared by Macpherson, whose previous use of the qualification DClinPsychol has been investigated by Greater Glasgow Primary Care Trust, the State Hospital in Carstairs, where he is now employed, and by the British Psychological Society.
This guy is in trouble
As seen on the British website Spiked
At the height of the so-called Prozac Revolution in the early 1990s, fans of the drug made some grand claims for the new pharmaceutical marvel on the block. [...] Since those heady days, however, the reputations of Prozac and other selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) have taken a beating, not least when GlaxoSmithKlein was forced to abandon the claim that its SSRI, Seroxat, had no withdrawal symptoms. Worse might be on the way - a growing number of people is beginning to suspect that rather than being panaceas, these drugs might be no more than glorified placebos. [...]
It is worth noting that to register a drug, the FDA requires that two trials show it to perform better than placebo. One of the drugs needed nine trials to return two positive ones, the other seven being rejected. 'The whole thing is a pseudo-science', says Kirsch. 'These trials do not show that the drugs are significantly better than placebos.' This is not isolated evidence.
Good article, worth reading. The evidence is building up on the scam behind these drugs.
Sunday, October 12, 2003
Taking Seroxat is increasingly being used as a defence for criminal behaviour. In one case in England, a man had charges dropped against him after claiming the drug turned him into a robber. The drug has been linked to a number of suicides and is currently under review. But its makers - the drugs giant GlaxoSmithKline say that millions of patients around the world have taken it without suffering any ill-effects.
See the extended interview here on the BBC.
[To investigate the doubts surrounding Seroxat, BBC Breakfast's Luisa Baldini talked to Mark Hamilton, who claims that the drug turned him into a violent robber. Full transcript at the link]
Saturday, October 11, 2003
As reported in the Guardian
The scientist who led the latest trial of an antidepressant drug given to children, which claimed that it was effective and safe, has conceded to the Guardian that the drug's potential to cause suicidal thinking needs to be investigated. Last month the Journal of the American Medical Association published results from two trials of children treated with Pfizer's antidepressant drug Lustral, known in the US as Zoloft.
Seventeen children who were given the drug were pulled out of the trial because of side effects, compared with five who were given a placebo. Only 10% more children improved on the drug than improved on a placebo.
The researchers nonetheless concluded that "the results of this pooled analysis demonstrate that sertraline (Lustral) is an effective and well-tolerated short-term treatment for children and adolescents with major depressive disorder".
Obviously, they are right to reconsider their position. What are these people thinking? What are their priorities?
Friday, October 10, 2003
The parents of a 14-year-old Palo Alto boy who threw himself in front of a train last year are suing the manufacturer of Accutane, a popular prescription drug the freshman was using to treat his acne, but which the family claims led to his suicide. Barry and Laurie Wertheimer of Palo Alto filed the lawsuit this week in Santa Clara County Superior Court against Hoffmann-La Roche for negligence, fraud and deceit, and medical negligence, among other charges.
The family is seeking a jury trial and unspecified general and punitive damages. "Steven Wertheimer's suicide was yet another tragic consequence of the ingestion of the acne drug Isotretinion, more commonly known as 'Accutane,' which Steven had been prescribed and taken over a six-month period," the lawsuit reads.
Thursday, October 09, 2003
Dr. Stephen Rodney Kirkham has had his psychiatrist's license put on probation for five years because of his history of alcohol and drug abuse, according to the state's medical licensing board.
Wednesday, October 08, 2003
Dr Neil McQuire, 52, is under investigation by British Psychological Society conduct committee in central London for inappropriate conduct with a female domestic violence victim. He has said he did not believe his behaviour towards the patient was wrong in the context of therapy, but agreed some of his actions or comments could be “open to misinterpretation”. He says that many of the allegations made by the patient – referred to only by the initials SK – were simply “untrue”. He told the committee that from May 1998, he had been made aware that his approach and therapy had sometimes crossed personal boundaries.
Dr McQuire, an associate fellow of the BPS, was dismissed from his post as a consultant clinical psychologist with Rochdale Healthcare NHS Trust in February 2002 for gross misconduct after a series of complaints by female patients over “inappropriate touching and comments”.
Dr Neil McQuire, has been found guilty of professional misconduct.
Among other things, he allegedly told a young Asian woman he could see her in a relationship with a “white man” and that he was sad it could not be with him.
The British Psychological Society’s conduct committee said the father-of-three, of Clay Lane, Norden, Rochdale, Lancashire, had “violated the boundaries of therapeutic relationships” with a number of woman, even after receiving oral and written warnings by his employers.
Monday, October 06, 2003
A German doctor under police investigation over the deaths of 76 people insisted in a newspaper interview that she was innocent. "I'm no angel of death," Mechthild Bach told the Neue Presse newspaper in Hanover, central Germany, where the investigation is being coordinated.
The 53-year-old denied allegations she had deliberately killed patients by injecting them with fatally high doses of morphine. "There is nothing true in these claims," she said, putting the blame on a health insurance company which she said wanted to close the clinic where she worked.
She said she had instead "accompanied people into death," but only after consultations with the patient and their family. The goal was to allow them to die "without pain, fear or suffering".
It is still not clear whether the patients had voiced any wish to die.
The prosecutor's office in Hanover has said it is unclear whether the high dosages were given deliberately or accidentally, or without Bach having told the patients of the potential deadly side-effects. Two bodies have been exhumed so far for further examination.
According to weekend press reports, several of those who died in her care had been admitted with ailments that were not terminal, and had not previously reported suffering. Helping someone to die at their own request is punishable under German law by between six months and five years in prison.
Sunday, October 05, 2003
Lou Dobbs recent column raises questions about overmedicating in the USA.
American consumers, mostly children, account for more than 90% of global consumption of such stimulants. "If we have four or five times the learning disability or depression or other neurotic illnesses that the Europeans do," Caplan says, "then either we got a really bad gene pool through immigration or we're overmedicating."
and, of course, the other answer is that everyone else is crazy.....
yeh, that's the answer ....
Friday, October 03, 2003
- A woman who blames her husband's suicide on Prozac has filed a lawsuit claiming that Eli Lilly & Co. should have warned patients that some people's bodies cannot metabolize the drug's active ingredient. The lawsuit filed against the Indianapolis-based drugmaker Thursday in Marion County Superior Court is the second to make such a claim. Lilly, which contends the drug is safe, settled a similar case in Georgia this spring.
But Houston attorney Andy Vickery, who has filed more than 20 lawsuits against the drugmaker including the Georgia suit, said this case is different. "This is the first case involving Lilly that we have hard scientific proof that our client had a hard time metabolizing Prozac," he said. A blood test found high levels of fluoxetine, Prozac's active ingredient, in the body of Clarkston, Mich., police officer Daren Alli following his May 23, 2001 suicide, alleges the lawsuit.
Alli had taken Prozac for three days to alleviate a "mild" case of depression, but threw the pills in the toilet after they made him "jumpy" and "jittery," said his widow, Michele.
Four days later, the SWAT team captain shot himself in the head with a .38-caliber revolver.
Thursday, October 02, 2003
Psychological testing for the Broward Public Defender's Office is in disarray after the procedures of two prominent psychologists in murder cases have come into question. Another psychologist, Sherrie Bourg Carter, alleged that William Vicary and David Shapiro either deliberately contaminated tests by coaching murder defendants or manipulated answers to help the defense attorneys who hired them. Also, Shapiro was criticized for using unlicensed student interns to conduct tests in first-degree murder cases such as Polanco's.
Wednesday, October 01, 2003
Good article in the Christian Science Monitor looks at the problems in fighting drug addiction, and the messages that get sent to kids.
"The whole psychiatry movement basically got hijacked by the pharmaceutical industry in the late '80s," he [Dr Lawrence Diller] charges. "The discovery of certain drugs and the power of certain drug companies actually altered the way we think of ourselves."
"I worry that Ritalin becomes a substitute for other important factors, such as parents parenting better and teachers teaching better," he says. When that happens, he says, "the doctor winds up being complicit with values that are not good for children."
Society is normalizing the use of self-improvement drugs, and kids are acutely aware of that, says Peter Kramer, a professor at Brown University in Providence, R.I., and author of "Listening to Prozac."
"There's a phenomenon of giving medication to people who are fairly healthy," he says, "and having them overshoot to a point where they are more culturally rewarded."
That may be one reason why it's hard for today's adolescents to absorb the message when adults want them to understand that drugs can also be dangerous.
well, duh ...
Tuesday, September 30, 2003
A leading Danish psychologist has caused outrage by calling for the state to encourage the selective reproduction of children from intelligent parents and try to stop less gifted groups having children. "Intelligence is hereditary," said Professor Helmuth Nyborg, the dean of the psychology institute at Aarhus University.
"The 15 to 20 per cent of those at the lower levels of society - those who are not able to manage even the simplest tasks and often not their children - should be dissuaded from having children. "The fact is that they are having more children and the intelligent ones are having fewer."
He insisted his proposals could not be likened to policies under the Nazis. "Hitler didn't believe in eugenics. He just wanted to exterminate individual groups, and in fact exterminated the most intelligent among them," he said.
Monday, September 29, 2003
As reported in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune
A watchdog group created by the Florida Legislature to help disabled and vulnerable Floridians claims that the state Department of Children & Families is retaliating for its report on drugged foster children. The Statewide Advocacy Council issued an analysis of DCF records this month indicating that more than half the state's emotionally disturbed foster children were prescribed mind-altering medication, and nearly half of them had no medical evaluation. Seventeen were 5 or younger.
After that analysis, the agency stopped sharing records with the panel for the first time in 28 years. DCF attorneys also have begun screening all calls to the council's toll-free complaint hot line.
"Someone is trying to hide the facts," said state Sen. Walter G. "Skip" Campbell, D-Tamarac, who has tried twice to curb the use of psychiatric drugs among children in state care. "They don't want us to know what is actually happening to kids in foster care."
Sunday, September 28, 2003
The author of a damning report, which brands Britain's mental health services institutionally racist, has accused the British Government of trying to suppress its findings.
The Conservatives are now calling for an independent inquiry into ethnic-minority care following the publication of Professor Sashidharan's study, called Inside Outside (download link).
Published in April, the findings were damning. The report concluded that mental health services were institutionally racist, that the whole issue of ethnicity within mental health services had become marginalised or even ignored and that these problems were getting worse. Inside Outside also revealed that mentally distressed black people are more likely to be locked away, that rates of compulsory admission are markedly higher and that black and minority patients are more likely than white people to be assessed as requiring greater degrees of supervision, control and security.
As reported in the New York Times
For years, health insurers have occasionally demanded a look at psychotherapists' notes of their sessions with patients, to ensure that the care they were paying for was appropriate, or that it actually took place.
But now one insurer, Oxford Health Plans, is saying that in many cases, the notes are not enough evidence that the patients received what Oxford paid for. Oxford has audited hundreds of psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers in the New York metropolitan area, deemed their notes inadequate documentation of the sessions, and demanded repayment of thousands of dollars from each provider — in some cases, more than $100,000. [...]
Oxford audited 300 psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers in the metropolitan region, out of what it says are about 5,000 therapists in its system. The audits, which began last year, reached back to 1997, and the company sent letters seeking repayment this summer.
The crux of the problem, from the therapists' view, is that there are no generally agreed-on rules for session notes. "No one has ever told me what my notes had to contain or how long they had to be," said one audited psychologist, who has been told to return more than $40,000. "On rare occasions, I don't take any notes at all, if the patient says they're uncomfortable with it."
They are getting roasted over a spit slowly because there is no scientific or administrative standard that they adhere to. You can't go back into the notes, apparently, and see what really happened. At least according to Oxford.
Not that I'm going to give them any suggestions. ;-)
As seen in the Observer, in a follow up to the earlier story on the ban of Efexor:
Britain's drug watchdog has been forced to ban the use of 14 prescription drugs in the last five years after they were suspected of killing hundreds of people in the UK or harming thousands through serious side effects. Official figures released for the first time highlight the growing number of controversial decisions made by the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency (MHRA), which gave the green light to the drugs in the first place. In some cases, concerns about the drugs' safety records were already known.
Last week the MHRA released data to The Observer confirming that the 14 drugs it has banned since 1997 have been cited as a possible cause in at least 71 deaths in Britain and more than 3,000 injuries. Because these 'adverse' incidents are only reported on a voluntary basis by a hospital or doctor, experts believe the true number of people killed by these drugs probably runs into several hundreds, with thousands more injured.
The disclosure of these figures will put further pressure on the agency, which was forced on Friday to announce a ban on the anti-depressant Efexor for children and adolescents with depression. The move came within months of a ban on under-18s taking another anti-depressant, Seroxat, after concerns that it increased the risk of suicide. [...]
Consumer groups and other critics of the drug-licensing system are alarmed at how many dangerous drugs win approval in the UK and are later withdrawn after being linked to serious side- effects. In the five years prior to 1997, only six drugs had to be taken off the market.
Many of these are not psych oriented, but are indicators of a larger ongoing situation
Friday, September 26, 2003
A study has found that
Discontinuation of typical antipsychotic therapy reduced craving for cocaine and amphetamines in patients with psychiatric illness,
but did not change drug use or psychiatric symptoms. Link goes to a review of the study.
So can we conclude the opposite, that typical antipsychotic therapy increases cravings for cocaine and amphetamines in Psych patients? Sound reasonable to me.
See the study abstract here Brown ES, Nejtek VA, Perantie DC, Rajan Thomas N, Rush AJ. in the Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacolology 2003 August.
As seen in this report from Iowa
A psychologist who worked at the state-run Mental Health Institute in Independence is accused of sexually harassing patients.
Joshua Rosenberg, who now lives in New York, was an Iowa-licensed psychologist from 1978 to 2002. According to state records, he was employed by the Iowa Department of Human Services for at least nine years, from 1993 to 2002.
In August 2000, when he was living in Waterloo and working at the Mental Health Institute, a patient filed a complaint against Rosenberg with the Iowa Board of Psychology Examiners. The complainant alleged Rosenberg had inappropriate physical contact with him or her. A female patient of the institute filed a second complaint, alleging Rosenberg had sexually harassed her.
According to records of the psychology board, a staff investigator made several attempts to contact Rosenberg to arrange for an interview, and Rosenberg did not respond or refused to cooperate. He then moved without notifying the licensing board of his whereabouts.
The board has charged Rosenberg with engaging in practices harmful to the public, violating his profession's ethics and failing to cooperate with an investigation. Rosenberg has 20 days to respond. A hearing is scheduled for February 2004.
Thursday, September 25, 2003
The Vermont State Hospital will not challenge a federal decision to withhold funding for patients at the state psychiatric facility effective Sept. 30.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services decided last week to stop paying roughly $700,000 a year to the 54-bed hospital in Waterbury because its inspectors found a list of deficiencies in treatment, staffing, leadership and patient safety during repeated inspections since March.
Federal officials concluded this month that the hospital wouldn’t be able to remedy everything by a Sept. 30 deadline.
Helen Mulligan, spokeswoman for the agency, said that when the second suicide in a month took place after the hospital said it was making corrections, “we concluded that either the plan of correction wasn’t adequate or it wasn’t being followed.” Besio said the problem wasn’t with the proposed changes, but the ambitious schedule.
A female patient committed suicide Sept. 16. A male patient committed suicide Aug. 8. Shaw wrote that inspections following each of these events noted deficiencies “of such a serious nature as to constitute an immediate threat to the health and safety of patients receiving inpatient services.”
A German psychologist is specialising in treating chickens and is helping them deal with problems ranging from gender issues to neurosis. Barbara Luetzeler, from Bonn, is the country's only chicken psychologist. She says one of her cases involved a hen named Lucie who always wanted to be a cock.
You just can't make this stuff up
Wednesday, September 24, 2003
An Ottawa psychiatrist has denied allegations of sexual impropriety. The disciplinary hearing for Dr. Gerald Smith has resumed Monday in Toronto after a nine-month recess.
Smith took the stand to deny he had ever engaged in sexual activity with any of the five women who have accused him. The women were Smith's patients between 1976 and 2002. The Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons has accused Smith of sexual abuse, sexual misconduct and professional incompetence.
Tuesday, September 23, 2003
As reported by Anne McIlroy, who is The Globe and Mail's science reporter.
Dr. Mintzes worries that the aggressive ad campaigns may promote drug use among relatively healthy people, and may "medicalize" normal human conditions. She points to an ad that GlaxoSmithKline, the makers of Paxil, ran in the New York Times Magazine after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks: "Millions suffer from chronic anxiety. Millions could be helped by Paxil," it read.
"At what point," Dr. Mintzes asks, "does an understandable response to distressing life events become an indication for drug treatment -- and a market opportunity?"
She has taken the same Paxil site "self-test" for anxiety that I did, as well as other diagnostic tests on the Web. Her results? "I need medication. No matter what the problem is, I have it."
We agree that neither of us has an anxiety disorder, or any need to talk to our doctors about our "symptoms." I find this comforting.
could the test be biased? who would think?
Monday, September 22, 2003
I came across this editorial on the psychiatrist in the Andrea Yates Case. He was found to have made up credentials, such as having been a consultant for the network TV show Law and Order.
I think I know why a grand jury declined Thursday to indict celebrity psychiatrist Dr. Park Dietz for his spectacularly false testimony in the Andrea Yates trial. [...]
I think grand jurors saw something else.
Dietz, after all, makes a great witness or he wouldn't be able to charge the $50,000 he received for this case. Listening to him, grand jurors couldn't believe he would simply lie to put down a hostile defense attorney.
But if he didn't lie, there's only one other explanation.
His mind played tricks on him. That's right. He was temporarily insane. He didn't know right from wrong. It could happen to anyone, even a good-hearted psychiatrist.
And there is some good in Dietz's heart. For example, he doesn't always find murderers to be sane. He does in the vast majority of cases, or he wouldn't make so much money from prosecutors. But I found several examples of him finding defendants to be insane, even in cases where he was hired by the prosecution. So I do believe he has a conscience, and I have an idea for how he can assuage it.
That $50,000 he was paid? That happens to be almost exactly what the Yates family, already strapped from funding her defense, had to pay to obtain a trial transcript so she could appeal. For Dietz to pay for that transcript would be an ideal atonement, especially since his misstatement will be a central point of appeal.
Maine Superior Court Chief Justice Nancy D. Mills, as part of a ruling that could lead to court control over the state mental health system, has decided to take immediate control over the state psychiatric hospital to force compliance with a 13-year-old consent decree. The so-called AMHI consent decree was signed by state officials in 1990 to settle a class-action lawsuit brought by patients at the hospital over deteriorating conditions at AMHI following the deaths of several patients. In May, Mills concluded after a seven-week trial that the state had failed to prove it had met the terms of a majority of the consent decree's requirements. In her order, Mills granted broad powers to the receiver who has yet to be appointed. Former Supreme Court Chief Justice Daniel Wathen, appointed to oversee the consent decree, issued a request this week for proposals from those who want to be considered for the receiver's post. The judge ordered him to nominate a candidate by Oct. 10. Meanwhile the labor unions involved are making positive, hopeful sounds in their press releases while waiting nervously to see what happens.
There are two new laws in Texas on interest to teachers this year. One law bans school employees from recommending a psychotropic, or mind-altering, drug or suggesting a diagnosis. A school medical official such as a nurse still can make a referral to a health care provider. The other law prevents parents from being reported to state officials as neglectful solely because they refuse to place a child on psychiatric drugs, or refuse psychiatric or psychological treatment or testing.
The Texas Education Agency has included the two new laws, House Bill 320 and Senate Bill 1406, in a briefing book it distributes to school districts on education-related legislation. The laws underscore the limits on teachers and other school employees in medical recommendations, said TEA spokeswoman Debbie Graves Ratcliffe.
Saturday, September 20, 2003
As seen here, with a tip pf the hat to Alex Chernavsky
Rockville, Mary. -- A study conducted by researchers at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) reports that an overwhelming majority of 100 percent of all newborn infants display symptoms normally associated with clinical adult depression and in fact suffer from a medical condition known as Infant Depressive Disorder (IDD).
"A baby suffering from Infant Depressive Disorder will exhibit many of the same warning signs as depressed adults: frequent bouts of crying, weight gain, disrupted sleep patterns and so on," said Dr. James Redab, who headed up NICHD's three-year study. "Parents, do not dismiss your infant's behavior and assume that the little one is just tired or fussing. The infant without question requires immediate medication, psychotherapy and quite possibly electroconvulsive therapy. Your baby needs to get well."
Between July of 2000 and July of 2003, NICHD researchers examined an internationally representative sample of 11,000 infants, reporting that in all 11,000 cases the newborn exhibited various physical signs of depression - from irritability to difficulty making decisions to abrupt mood swings.
"As a parent, once you know the signs of IDD and know what to look for, it'll become very obvious to you that your baby has depression," said Redab. "And although it's a huge blow to come to the realization that your child has this serious of a medical condition at such a young age, you'll be relieved to finally know why your baby has been crying nonstop and just laying around, practically lifeless, for weeks if not months."
Redab, himself a father of two, expressed concern about the frequency in which IDD appears in children under the age of one.
Yes this is a bit of satire, worthy of the Onion
The British Government has decided to stop doctors prescribing another anti-depressant to under-18s because of reports of dangerous side-effects. Britain's Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency said that venlafaxine - brand names Efexor and Efexor XL - was linked to an increased rate of hostility and ideas about suicide and self-harm. More common side-effects found among young people were abdominal pain, loss of appetite and weight loss.
Are Omega-3 oils an effective treatment for Clinical Depression and Bipolar Disorder? This doctor thinks so and the data seems to support his theory. Several studies are going at this time. So why isn't it used more widely in treatment for mood disorders? Do doctors see it as junk science? Or is there another reason?
Wih a tip of the hat to the folks at Metafilter for this tidbit
Friday, September 19, 2003
The pain and nausea some people feel when they stop taking certain antidepressants is spurring controversy over whether these drugs should carry explicit warning labels about withdrawal. According to this report in Psychology Today, such withdrawal has often been mistaken for depression relapse. Joseph Glenmullen, M.D., author of Prozac Backlash, sees a potential crisis should withdrawal become widely recognized. "Thousands and thousands of people have tried to go off SSRIs, and their doctors have mistaken it for a relapse [into depression]," says Glenmullen.
A former university lecturer who raped one of his students three times and then raped again while out on bail has been jailed for life.
Dr Shaun Farrell, 39, a former psychology lecturer at Christ Church University College in Canterbury, England, subjected the former student to a horrific 24-hour ordeal after she ended their three-year relationship. Farrell raped his first victim, who is now aged 23, three times, and degraded and humiliated her during the course of the terrifying 24-hour ordeal at her home on November 11 last year.
Farrell, then raped a 19-year-old holidaymaker on the day he was due in court for the first set of rape charges.
California State officials this week verbally notified the Rubicon Children's Center that they would "seek revocation of their license.''
No single incident prompted state officials to seek to close Rubicon, which operates five homes in Fremont residential neighborhoods that serve up to 30 children. Rather, there were ``numerous concerns over an extended period of time.'' Some of those concerns include poorly trained staff members and the misreporting, or sometimes failure to report, runaway children, sexual misconduct between adolescents and thefts.
In an effort to avert an impending state order to close, the 30-year-old Fremont non-profit agency has laid off its executive director and 19 other employees and closed two of its five group homes.
Police Lt. Chuck Uhler, the lead Rubicon investigator has seen police visits to Rubicon group homes nearly quadruple since 2000. In the past three years, the state has revoked 12 to 14 group-home licenses out of about 1,700 group homes statewide.
Strangely enough, Rubicon's clinical psychologist, Edward Buchanan, will serve as acting director. He is the person most likely to have been responsible for the rehabilition to the troubled kids in the first place.
Thursday, September 18, 2003
As ordinary citizens struggled to rebuild their lives after the collapse of the World Trade Center towers, well-meaning mental health professionals swarmed New York City to provide aid to the expected millions who would surely need support. These grief and crisis counselors delivered interventions that they believed would mitigate psychological distress and prevent the emergence of posttraumatic stress disorder.
The problem? It now seems that such techniques do not work. They don't work at all. And in fact, they may just make things worse, stirring up the intense emotions and shock of the traumatic event without providing any relief or release from the pain and suffering.
This according to this press release by the American Psychological Society
in part it says
While most people who participate in psychological debriefing say it was helpful, controlled studies showed little or no effect on the onset of PTSD. "These reports that the method is helpful may reflect little more than polite expressions of gratitude for attention received," the authors wrote. "Most studies show that individuals who receive debriefing fare no better than those who do not receive debriefing."
Simply put, the psych do not know how to provide even the most basic relief for the impact of a tragic event.
Children and elderly patients without clear psychiatric needs will be nudged out of the state's two mental hospitals after 45 days, saving Colorado more than $2 million a year, under a new state plan.
For those patients who remain past the 45 days without a documented "medical necessity," counties will be asked to pick up their tab, said Nancy McCallin, the governor's chief economist. "To keep the kids there without a medical necessity is inappropriate," McCallin told the six lawmakers on the Joint Budget Committee on Wednesday.
A representative for Colorado's counties said she was stunned by the announcement.
this seems to be good news, all around. However, the decision remains controversial because the hospitals have become occasional holding zones for people who have no place else to go. And there is something about that idea of holding people without a documented medical necessity that sends shivers down my spine.
In England, the psychiatric doctor at the center of criticism following the death of a Whitehaven family man has since been sacked from his job at the West Cumberland Hospital. Dr Peter Fisher was suspended after having been employed as a locum at West Cumberland Hospital from August until October 2002. Peter Weighman died in the West Cumberland Hospital's Yewdale Ward 12 months ago after taking an overdose of tablets with the intention of taking his own life.
Both the Mental Health Trust and the North Cumbria Acute NHS Trust carried out an internal inquiry into all the circumstances surrounding Peter Weighman's death. Relevant parts of it were read to the inquest.
In relation to Dr Fisher, one of the inquiry conclusions was: There were unreasonable omissions on the part of both the on-call staff grade psychiatrist (and nursing staff) to respond appropriately to the patient's needs� One of the general findings was that certain aspects of Mr Weighman's medical care fell below acceptable levels and that a decision to care for him in the psychiatry ward rather than a medical ward was clinically flawed.
Wednesday, September 17, 2003
Interesting story on how a salesperson fdor a small drug comapnay has problems promoting her drugs, because she doesn''t have enough free stuff and gifts to hand out to doctors.
''It is hard to know where to draw the ethical line,'' she said. ''I think it is considered ethical for me to buy a doctor lunch, well then what about buying the physician's whole staff lunch? That may get up around $100 or so, and that is the same price as the TV and VCR that the physician has asked me to buy him for his waiting room.''
and of course, doctors take advantage
Inova Health System plans to shutter its 19-bed psychiatric ward at Alexandria Hospital [Alexandria, Virginia] in January. Inova officials said yesterday that the decision to close was prompted by low patient numbers at the Alexandria site and a dwindling pool of full-time specialists. Starting next year, Alexandria psychiatric patients will be diverted to other area hospitals such as Inova Fairfax, which has beds for 34 people, and Inova Mount Vernon, which can accommodate 23.
Once the unit is moved from Alexandria, the freed-up beds may be used for cancer patients, Inova said. "We have a strong demand on the medical-surgical side."
This may reflect nationwide trends. Other recents stories linked here seem to reflect this. Declining number of patients, along with shrinking numbers of psychiatrists. The ones left behind are starting to get nervous.
Tuesday, September 16, 2003
Noted molecular biologist Eric Lander, a leader of the Human Genome Project, recently made an interesting comment at a conference of renowned scientists and Buddhist scholars at the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) this weekend.
"It is certainly not inconceivable that 20 years from now, the US surgeon general might recommend 60 minutes of mental exercise five times a week"
In other words, meditation. As seen in this report on the event. such a prediction from a man of Lander's stature at a venue like MIT is an indication of mainstream science's growing fascination with Buddhism, and especially with the preliminary but extraordinary results of state-of-the-art research into the Olympian mental athleticism of trained Buddhist monks.
In the age of Prozac, the possible applications could leave mood-altering pills on the shelf.
However, some scientists had concerns over the time needed to train such skills. Others argued for the usefulness of negative emotions.
Which, in my mind argues for them learning the lesson of meditation, if nothing else. Many more details at the report.
Monday, September 15, 2003
As reported on ABC News
Before Andrea Yates was convicted of drowning her children, a high-profile psychiatrist told jurors he had been a consultant on an episode of Law & Order that was similar to the Yates case and had aired prior to the real-life crime. It turns out — no such episode ever aired.
A grand jury is investigating Dr. Park Dietz's testimony in the prosecution of Yates, who was convicted last year of capital murder in the drowning deaths of her five children in a Houston suburb. Dietz told jurors during Yates' trial that an episode of Law & Order focused on a mother who drowned her children and was acquitted with an insanity defense, had aired weeks before Yates killed her five children in the same manner.
Prosecutor Joe Owmby referenced the show in his closing arguments before Yates was convicted of capital murder on March 12, 2002.
The defense did not find out until two days after the guilty verdict that no such episode existed, or had aired. Dietz, whose final bill was close to $50,000 in the Yates case, informed the Harris County District Attorney's Office that he had been mistaken about the Law & Order episode, and did not think it played a role in the drowning of the Yates children. In response, defense attorneys and prosecutors wrote a statement about the error that was read to jurors before they decided on Yates' punishment.
The possible legal consequences of this psych screwup are not clear.
Sunday, September 14, 2003
A Tasmania (Australia) woman wants to establish a class action lawsuit against a former Hobart psychiatrist who has been "struck off" [lost his license to practice] for having sex with a patient. Lawrence John McCafferty, 55, has been barred from practising as a psychiatrist in Tasmania and Britain after fathering a child with a woman he was treating for anxiety. A second woman also told a tribunal that McCafferty had made sexual advances on her at his consulting rooms in Hampden Rd at Battery Point. Now a third woman has come forward to allege that McCafferty raped her in his consulting rooms in 1992.
McCafferty has since moved from Hobart to England, and last year, the British General Medical Council decided to investigate his conduct in Tasmania. In July, he was struck off the roll in Britain, with a second woman coming forward to complain that McCafferty had made a sexual advance on her.