Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Psychologist calls for Selective Breeding of Humans

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

Florida Department of Children & Families trying to hide something?

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

British Government accused of trying to suppress report on psychiatric racism

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.

Insurer Seeks Return of Fees for Therapy

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. ;-)

British Watchdog bans 14 prescription drugs over fear of multiple deaths

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

Typical antipsychotic therapy increases cravings for cocaine and amphetamines in Psych patients

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.

Psychologist accused of sexually harassing patients

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

Vermont State Hospital loses Federal Psych funding

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 specialising in treating chickens

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

Psychiatrist denies sexual allegations

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

The most over-diagnosed group of mental illnesses ever?

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

Could the psychiatrist have been temporarily insane?

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.

Court control over Maine Psychiatric Hospital

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.

New Texas law stops educators from urging use of Ritalin

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

Babies: 100% suffer from depression

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

British Government action against Efexor

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.

Proper Nutrition may be better than Psych Drugs. (but less profitable)

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

Are Antidepressants Addictive?

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.

Rape Case Lecturer Jailed for Life on Rape conviction

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 children's home group could lose it's license

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

Grief Counselors don't help people deal with grief

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.

Colorado decides to stop holding people in Psych Wards without a documented medical necessity

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.

Psychiatrist fired following patient death

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

How Drug companies push pills to doctors

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

Psychiatric Ward to shut down

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

Buddhism may be better than Prozac

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

False testimony by Psychiatrist in Andrea Yates case.

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

Women Seeks Class action suit against Psych for Sex abuse

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.

Saturday, September 13, 2003

Psych Professor chases Bigfoot with a gun

An interesting detail in the story seen here:

David Walsh, a longtime psychology professor at the University of Southern California, reported seeing a Bigfoot in 2002 while hunting wild pigs in the state. Too surprised in the twilight to react as the creature disappeared into the woods that day, Walsh knows what he'll do next time. "I have a rifle in my gun case specifically bought for that purpose," the professor said. [...]

Bigfoot enthusiasts, meanwhile, are still smarting from Ray Wallace's death in 2002, when his family revealed that the famous footprints "discovered" 40 miles north of Willow Creek were a hoax, made with feet carved out of wood. But believers say the hoax doesn't affect the numerous other sightings, credible footprints and other evidence. Still, skeptics wonder why no one has found anything that can be tested for DNA.

Great. not only does he believe in mythical creatures, but his first impulse is to murder one if he spots one again.

Friday, September 12, 2003

Canadian Military clinics 'dysfunctional'

Canadian Military clinics designed to help soldiers overcome severe psychological problems are themselves dysfunctional and need to be overhauled, says the ombudsman for National Defence in Canada, Andre Marin

Marin launched his investigation into the Halifax facility, which treats victims of post-traumatic stress disorder, shortly after a respected psychiatrist was fired in December 2001.

Dr. Diane McIntosh's 48 patients were suddenly left without care, with no immediate plan to find them another doctor.

And on June 2 this year -- just as the investigation into the McIntosh affair was ending -- clinic psychologist Hans Asche was fired, leaving his 17 patients in the lurch. About 10 of those patients complained to Marin's office.

Meanwhile, a psychiatrist at the Edmonton clinic, Dr. Edel Dromey, was fired in the spring of last year. Another caregiver, psychologist Rhonda Gibson, was also let go. In each case, patients dialed the toll-free complaint line to the ombudsman.

The fired staff all worked for Med-Emerg International Inc., an Ontario firm hired by the military in March 2001 to provide patient services at five such clinics, including facilities in Victoria, Ottawa and Quebec City. The three-year, $92-million contract ends March 31 but can be renewed.

Marin's investigation found that workplace problems existed before Med-Emerg's arrival, but soon worsened.

Thursday, September 11, 2003

Report shows high use of psychotropic drugs in Florida foster care kids

Out of 1,180 children reviewed, 652 of them - 55 percent - are on one or more psychotropic drugs, according to a report prepared by the Florida Statewide Advocacy Council. Seventeen of the children were aged 5 or younger, including two 1-year-olds and four 2-year-olds. The report also said that 44 percent of the children on medication had not had a medical evaluation. "These records are cause for alarm because of the age of the children," the report said. "Diagnosing psychiatric illness in children below the age of six is difficult because of the child's inability to accurately and completely describe their feelings."

Louisiana psych investigated for alcohol and drug abuse.

A Louisiana psychiatrist's license has been put on probation for five years because of his history of alcohol and drug abuse, according to the state's medical licensing board. Dr. Stephen Rodney Kirkham's history of drug and alcohol problems prompted the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners to conduct an investigation. According to the agency's five-page report, it found enough evidence to charge him with violating the state Medical Practice Act. He faces far more heavy penalties if breaks the conditions of his no contest plea.

Ethnic Cleansing in Connecticut - The state's role in the Nazi eugenics movement

As seen in the Hartford Advocate

Hitler and his henchmen victimized an entire continent and exterminated millions in his quest for a co-called "Master Race." But the concept of a white, blond-haired, blue-eyed master Nordic race was not Hitler's. The idea was created in the United States, and cultivated in Connecticut, two to three decades before Hitler came to power, the product of the American eugenics movement. Hartford and indeed the state of Connecticut played an important albeit unknown role in this country's campaign of ethnic cleansing. What's more, Connecticut was an important player in America's eugenic nexus with Nazi Germany. [...]

Eugenics would have been so much bizarre parlor talk had it not been for massive financing by corporate philanthropies, specifically the Carnegie Institution, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Harriman railroad fortune. They were all in league with America's most respected scientists hailing from such prestigious universities as Yale, Harvard, and Princeton. These academicians faked and twisted data to serve eugenics' racist aims. Connecticut was considered both an epicenter for eugenic propaganda and a test case for ethnic cleansing. [...]

By 1926, Rockefeller had donated some $410,000 -- almost $4 million in 20th century money -- to hundreds of German researchers. For example, in May of 1926, Rockefeller awarded $250,000 to the German Psychiatric Institute of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute to become the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Psychiatry. Among the leading psychiatrists at the German Psychiatric Institute was Ernst Rüdin, who became director and eventually an architect of Hitler's systematic medical repression.

Another in the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute's eugenic complex of institutions was the Institute for Brain Research. Since 1915, it had operated out of a room. Everything changed when Rockefeller money arrived in 1929. A grant of $317,000 allowed the Institute to construct a major building and take center stage in German race biology. The Institute for Brain Research received additional grants from the Rockefeller Foundation during the next several years. Leading the Institute, once again, was Hitler's medical henchman Ernst Rüdin. Rüdin's organization became a prime director and recipient of the murderous experimentation and research conducted on Jews, Gypsies and others.

Beginning in 1940, thousands of Germans taken from old age homes, mental institutions and other custodial facilities were systematically gassed. Between 50,000 and 100,000 were eventually killed.

Leon Whitney, executive secretary of the American Eugenics Society declared of Nazism, "While we were pussy-footing around ... the Germans were calling a spade a spade."

Just in case you were not aware of the roots of modern Psychiatry

Too many Psychs, not enough real Scientists

The world is in danger of running out of scientists because too many young people are opting to study "easier" subjects in school and university, this according to a speech at the British Association Science Festival. This year there was yet another fall in the number of students taking physics, chemistry and biology at A-level. The number of maths students rose, but only after recent years of decline.

Last month head teachers said that the rising pass rate of A-levels was being fuelled by pupils switching from maths and science to supposedly easier subjects such as psychology and media studies. "We are not alone in facing these trends," said Sir Peter, the former chief executive of Oxford Instruments.

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Irish Psychiatric Patients on the decline

The number of patients in Ireland’s psychiatric hospitals fell by 15% last year, according to the Inspector of Mental Hospitals’ latest annual report. See their press release here. You can download the 300 plus page report here

Overland Park medical center to close psychiatric unit

The Overland Park Regional Medical Center in Kansas is closing its adult inpatient psychiatric unit to make room for renovation and expansion of its women's center, a hospital spokeswoman said Monday. The 24-bed psychiatric unit will stop accepting new patients Friday, said spokeswoman Gene Hallinan. She said current patients will remain until they are discharged by their physicians or until they are relocated to another facility.

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

Drug Counselor gets 5 years for selling cocaine

Eugene Moses, a former drug dealer-turned-drug counselor of Olney, Pennsylvania, has been sentenced to more than five years in prison by a federal judge. He was arrested in December after he made arrangements to sell 41/2 ounces of cocaine for $3,600 to a person who was secretly working with an officer on the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's regional task force. Moses pleaded guilty in May, without a deal with prosecutors, to charges of possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, distribution of drugs within 1,000 feet of a college or university, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

Monday, September 08, 2003

Former Psychiatrist wins parole to halfway house.

A former psychiatrist convicted of beating a female colleague with a crowbar is to be paroled from prison Monday and released to a halfway house. James A. Taylor was convicted of beating Martha Turnberg, 54, with a clawed crowbar on Oct. 21, 1996 as she left her psychiatry practice. Turnberg suffered head and face cuts requiring nearly 200 stitches. He was sentenced to 6 to 13 years in prison. Taylor was once a well-known and respected psychiatrist in the North Eastern Pennsylvania area.

Saturday, September 06, 2003

Psychiatrists investigated for failing to report child sex abuse

Prosecutors are investigating whether psychiatrists at Massachusetts General Hospital violated state law by failing to report sexual abuse by priests in the 1990s, the Boston Herald has learned. The probe focuses on whether a panel of MGH psychiatrists called the Priest Treaters Group, which met to discuss at least 17 clergy abusers from 1994 to 1997, ignored the state's mandated reporting statute. That law requires certain parties -- including physicians -- to report all suspicions of child abuse to law enforcement authorities.

"It is my hope their acts will be prosecutable," said Susan Gallagher of Medford, a victims' advocate with the Coalition of Catholics and Survivors who provided information that launched the Suffolk investigation. "But even if they aren't judged criminal, they should be exposed to the public."

Gallagher said she provided Assistant Suffolk District Attorney David N. Deakin, who runs his office's sex crimes unit, with deposition transcripts from a key MGH doctor and other data she said support a case against the psychiatrists. "He was very interested and he is investigating," she said.

A law enforcement source has confirmed the investigation.

Looking for millions in public money to keep psych hospital open

Pima County [Arizona] Administrator Chuck Huckelberry will ask the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday to approve up to $3.2 million in contracts for professional help at Kino Community Hospital where a psychiatric patient died in July while being restrained.

Huckelberry wants the board to approve a $1.7 million contract with Horizon Mental Health Management, a Texas-based company, to run Kino's psychiatric unit. He also asked for $750,000 to hire four private firms to supply "travel" nurses from out of the community to staff the psychiatric unit, and $826,000 for Oakland, Calif.-based Health Care Financial Solutions to help hospital officials prepare correction plans to satisfy state and federal health-care regulators that patients can safely be treated at Kino.

The July 15 death of Wendy Gazda, 32, sent state health inspectors to Kino a few days later. They found numerous deficiencies in policies and procedures, enough to threaten the hospital's status with the Center for Medicare Services in San Francisco and the reimbursements for Medicare patients, without which Kino cannot survive financially.

The Pima County Medical Examiner's Office ruled Gazda's death a homicide last week, saying she died as a result of being restrained. The Arizona Attorney General's Office is deciding whether to file criminal charges against any of the hospital mental health workers or private security guards involved.

Looks like it is in line to join the many other psych hospitals that have closed, all due to abuse of patients and public funds.

School Psychiatrist suspended for display of male genitalia

Gateway School District psychologist Dan Pezzulo has been suspended for displaying a photo of male genitalia during a staff meeting presentation. Stephanie Hogue, mother of seven and president of the Moss Side Middle School Family-Teacher Association, said teachers and parents who talked to her about the incident were appalled.

He has said that "I'll let my performance evaluations and my character speak for me"

In an ironic twist, Pezzulo also hosts a segment on the local cable television channel called "Tips From Dr. Dan." The segments feature messages to youths. In one segment, Pezzulo used street signs to emphasize making smart choices. The "stop sign" urged students to stop and think before making decisions that could impact the rest of their lives.

Thursday, September 04, 2003

Outrage at sentence of child rapist

A Scottish law chief has demanded a report into why a man who raped a 13-month-old baby was given a five-year jail sentence.

Lord Advocate Colin Boyd QC has said the sentence for the shocking crime is "unduly lenient".

Father-of-three James Taylor, 43, took pictures of himself raping the baby girl. He was caught after posting child pornography on the internet and when police raided his house they found 2,280 indecent images of children on his computer, CDs and floppy disks. He was sentenced at the High Court in Dunfermline after admitting raping the baby girl, indecency towards a six-year-old girl and possessing indecent images of children.

Children's charities are outraged at the sentence, given after a psychologist's report saying Talyor is at low risk of reoffending.

Shutting down Taunton State Hospital

The Massachusetts Department of Mental Health is shutting down Taunton State Hospital, hoping to save $2.2 million a year. The unit's population already has been reduced to just four men, this according to Lester Blumberg, chief of staff at the mental health department

The unit was created in response to a court order 13 years ago after five severely retarded men died at Bridgewater State Hospital where attorneys found patients isolated for as much as 23 hours a day, sometimes naked, psychotic, and despairing.

See also this Boston Channel 5 report.

New allegations of sexual assault at Oaks Psychiatric Hospital

Former patients at the Oaks Psychiatric Hospital in South Austin in Texas are now filling lawsuits against the facility for troubled teens. Two former employees were accused of sexual assault last year, and now allegations of sexual assault at the Oaks Psychiatric Hospital are pending.

"This was obviously a horrible tragic event for these girls and this appears not to have been an isolated event," victim's attorney John Thomas said. Attorney John Thomas says three girls were assaulted in March of 2002 by then 19-year-old Edward Johnson, an employee in charge of the girls showers and dorms.

See Video of TV Report at this link (real audio format)

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

Psych Professor resigns University position in child porn case fallout

John Caruso, 35, a University of Montana psychology professor, has submitted his letter of resignation to the University last week following the outrage that came with his arrest for child pornography. According to Deputy County Attorney Kirsten LaCroix, investigators are determining whether any of the pornography found on Caruso’s computer hard drive and zip disks involve children from his neighborhood. As seen in the story:

    On May 29, Caruso found his apartment burglarized and reported missing a black Dell laptop computer, film, a small amount of money and eight Sony PlayStation games, according to the court affidavit.

    Later, in an unrelated incident on June 5, authorities responded to a disturbance call in Caruso’s neighborhood from two parents complaining about their children’s activities. While questioning one of the children, a 14 year-old girl, officials made reference to Caruso’s stolen laptop. The girl admitted to burglarizing Caruso’s apartment with the help of her 13-year-old brother, according to the affidavit.

    The children told officials that after accessing Caruso’s computer files, they saw pictures of him engaging in oral sex with a girl who resembled a 7-year old girl who lived in the neighborhood.

The department has hired a replacement professor for the year. Caruso’s arraignment is scheduled for Sept. 9. He has been described as an excellent psychiatrist.

Monday, September 01, 2003

Psychiatrist led teen to falsely believe she had be molested by her father as a child.

John Eastgate, a British child psychiatrist has been accused of serious professional misconduct for leading a teenager into believing she had been sexually abused as a child. He was also alleged to have contacted police and social services about the abuse without properly investigating whether the charges could possibly be true. His actions acted as a "seed" to a number of further allegations against three other men, including the girl's father, which "pulled the family asunder for years".

If found guilty by the General Medical Council's professional conduct committee Mr Eastgate could be struck off or suspended from the medical register.

I should hope so, at least that.

Sick on the Inside

The full text of Wil S. Hylton's exposure of the medical conditions in United States prisons has been put on the web by the Wrongful Death Institute with the author's permission. It was published in Harper's August 2003 issue but not online.

Powerful stuff. A condemnation of a system that is often times more like something out of the middle ages that what youy imagine for the 21st century.

times must change

Changing the rules on Malpractice.

The Florida Medical Association decided Saturday it will try to change the state's constitution to ensure medical malpractice victims receive a larger share of court settlements they win. Under the proposed amendment, patients would receive 70 percent of the first $250,000 awarded and 90 percent of the rest of the award. Trial lawyers currently receive between 30-40 percent of malpractice awards.

Naturally, the lawyers are against this, and claim that the proposed admendment to the state constitution would make it impossible to try medical malpractice cases.

Naturally, in the case of psychiatric malpractice, I would be in favor the victims being able to get as much compensation as possible.

External management of Kino Psych Unit

Horizon Mental Health Management is being considered to take over day-to-day operations of the psychiatric unit at Kino Community Hospital in order to deal with myriad problems since the July 15 death of Wendy Gazda.

Wendy Gazda died while being restrained by hospital mental-health technicians and security guards for a private company.

No charges have been filed against the employees.