Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Florida debates prosecuting psych misconduct cases

The state of Florida is looking into several psychiatrist misconduct cases, years after the doctors were disciplined by the state but never referred for criminal prosecution. Under Florida law, state boards or departments are required to report cases of criminal misconduct to prosecutors. In at least two of the cases in question, the psychiatrists' practices were restricted by the state, but prosecution was not considered.

A unit in the Department of Health is trying to determine whether any other cases before 2002 were not properly forwarded to prosecutors, said Amy Jones, director of the Medical Quality Assurance Division of the state Health Department. Two cases involve psychiatrists in northeastern Florida who were sanctioned by the state with fines and practice restrictions after they had sex with patients. But Jacksonville-based State Attorney Harry Shorstein said he would be unlikely to prosecute those cases because the activities were consensual.

"Just doing something that's prohibited by the profession is better dealt with by the profession. Administrative action is more appropriate, and it was taken in these cases," he told The Florida Times-Union, in Jacksonville.

Research has turned up about 75 cases statewide that were not properly considered for prosecution, but the state has only forwarded about six to prosecutors.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Psychiatrist uses excrement-smeared cash to pay fine

BURLINGTON, Iowa - A psychiatrist made a stink over paying a parking ticket, using dirty money to cover the fine. Police say psychiastrist Ronald Preston McPike has been charged with harassment of a public official for smearing excrement on dollar bills used to pay the ticket.

McPike, 52, pleaded not guilty to the charge, a misdemeanor, and was released on $125 bond pending a Dec. 8 court appearance. He was arrested Sept. 30 at his office in Burlington.

Officers received an envelope in July labeled "Foreign brown substance on bills." The envelope contained several dollar bills and a parking ticket made out to a vehicle registered to McPike, police said.Tests indicated the brown substance was fecal matter and indicated the stain patterns resulted from feces being smeared on the bills.

"All personnel that dealt with the bills were offended by what the defendant did," an affidavit said. McPike told police the money fell into a toilet and was retrieved to pay the ticket, police said. If convicted, McPike could face up to 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $500.