Monday, June 30, 2008
Prominent Las Vegas psychiatrist Robert L. Horne was the target of two lawsuits in four years, and both cases were sealed from public view by the same judge, according to newly unveiled court records.
Those lawsuits were among the hundreds of cases, many involving wealthy or well-known individuals, that Clark County judges shielded from scrutiny for unknown reasons.
The existence of the Horne lawsuits and District Judge Michelle Leavitt's role in sealing them is among details of Nevada court business newly revealed as District Court clerks re-examine 298 sealed cases, dating back to the 1990s. They are unsealing some entirely and "properly sealing" others in accordance with the judge's original instructions.
Both the new rules and the current District Court review were prompted by Review-Journal stories last year which showed some District Court judges believed they had unbridled discretion to seal lawsuits, and did seal many without explanation.
As for the Horne lawsuits, Leavitt inherited one case shortly after she took the bench in 2003. She sealed the entire case from the public, even though the previous judge sealed only individual records from the 1999 lawsuit.
A separate lawsuit was filed against Horne in 2003. Again, Leavitt sealed the entire case from public view before it was settled out of court in January 2007.
While those sealed cases remained in District Court without the public's knowledge, the state Board of Medical Examiners in April 2005 filed a confidential complaint against Horne charging him with malpractice, according to board records.
Horne couldn't be reached for comment.
A licensed psychiatrist in Nevada for 23 years, Horne is a former member of the state's Commission on Mental Health and Developmental Services and is executive director of the International Scouting Museum in Las Vegas.
A summary of the Medical Examiners complaint says his conduct "fell below the appropriate standard of care when he engaged in a relationship with a former patient" in violation of state law.
Horne fought the complaint, but the board in March approved a settlement agreement with Horne, said Ed Cousineau, deputy general counsel for the board.
"Dr. Horne is in a position of prominence in the state and he debated (the complaint) back and forth, but we had enough to take it to a public hearing" before Horne agreed to settle the complaint, Cousineau said.
The settlement requires that a letter of reprimand be issued against Horne, that Horne pay a $2,500 fine and that he submit for 18 months to monthly monitoring and evaluations at his own expense.
State law prohibited Cousineau from disclosing information about the board's investigation of Horne, or whether the complaint was prompted by a malpractice lawsuit filed in 2003 by a woman named Patricia Ambrosio.
However, Cousineau did say that state law requires physicians, the courts and a physician's malpractice-insurance company to notify the board when a malpractice lawsuit is filed and when it is settled.
The 2003 case filed by Ambrosio was properly sealed by the courts, and the newly available records don't provide much information about the complaint.
The 1999 lawsuit against Horne was filed by Vincent Gulino and Gulino's parents. The complaint and all documents in the case remain sealed.
However, based on minutes of court hearings, motions filed and other information made available recently, the case appears to involve payment of a $750,000 settlement to Gulino.
Among other cases partially unsealed was a medical malpractice case in which the judge's intention was to seal only the confidential settlement. The suit was brought by a California man, Albert R. Peraza, against the now-closed Lake Mead Hospital and Medical Center in North Las Vegas and emergency room physician Richard C. Green Jr.
The doctor diagnosed Peraza as simply suffering from hyperventilation before the man was driven home to Southern California, where another hospital determined hours later that Peraza had suffered a stroke, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit accused the hospital of violating a state law that requires hospitals to provide emergency care to all patients regardless of their ability to pay. It appears the case was settled out of court and dismissed in June 2005.
On the Web site for the state Board of Medical Examiners, which licenses physicians, there is no mention of any discipline handed down in response to the lawsuit or settlement.
The case was assigned to District Judge Jessie Walsh.
One of the properly sealed cases was against the Creative Beginnings child-care center on East Bonanza Road.
The lawsuit involved ex-employee Kimya Winbush, serving a life sentence for sex crimes committed outside the center on two boys he met there.
The attorney for former Lt. Gov. and Clark County Commissioner Lorraine Hunt asked that the public be cleared from the courtroom before hearings on her lawsuit against former Clark County Public Administrator Jared Schafer.
The case appears to involve her ex-husband's estate. Hunt's attorney asked District Court Judge Jackie Glass to seal the case.
Minutes in the case state that Glass urged the parties to settle their differences "rather than have the family history laid out for everyone to hear" in court
Thursday, June 26, 2008
From the most excellent WSJ Health Blog. There is this small matter of a very large amount of money going to a person investigating the possible use of a drug. Corcept is studying the drug mifepristone to treat psychotic depression; Schatzberg is listed as the principal investigator on an NIH-funded study of mifepristone. Can you guess what the research results were?
Chuck Grassley is at it again. The senator from Iowa is looking into a Stanford psychiatry professor’s multimillion-dollar stake in a drug company called Corcept Therapeutics.
Alan Schatzberg, who heads Stanford’s psych department, followed the university’s rules and reported having a stake of more than $100,000 in the company. According to Grassley, Schatzberg’s total stake in the company may be worth some $6 million.
“Obviously, $6 million is a dramatically higher number than $100,000 and I am concerned that Stanford may not have been able to adequately monitor the degree of Dr. Schatzberg’s conflicts of interest with its current disclosure policies and submit to you that these policies should be re-examined,” Grassley wrote in a letter to Stanford’s president.
Grassley, a Republican, has been looking into docs’ financial ties for a while, and he’s been pushing a bill that would require disclosure of industry payments to doctors.
Friday, June 20, 2008
A flash back to the bizarre case of Dr. Margaret Bean-Bayog, Harvard psychiatrist, taken from a report in the NY Times on September 18th, 1992.
Psychiatrist in Sex Abuse Case Offers Her LicenseDr. Margaret Bean-Bayog, the Harvard psychiatrist who has been accused of sexually abusing one of her patients and contributing to his suicide, offered to resign her medical license today.Continues to Declare Innocence
The offer was made four days before the state Board of Registration in Medicine was scheduled to present evidence against Dr. Bean-Bayog that could have led to the loss of her license.
After meeting tonight, members of the medical board announced that they would forward the letter and accompanying documents to the administrative judge in charge of the case for a decision on whether to go forward with the hearing on Monday, as scheduled.
But Jack Fabiano, the lawyer hired by the board to present the evidence against Dr. Bean-Bayog, called the resignation attempt "invalid" and said, "I view this as a highly improper attempt to circumvent normal trial procedures."
A member of the medical board, Paul Gitlin, said there were complications with Dr. Bean-Bayog's letter proposing her resignation, which would be permanent and would prevent her from practicing medicine anywhere in the nation. In most states, however, the loss of her medical license would not prevent Dr. Bean-Bayong from practicing as a therapist.In her letter, Dr. Bean-Bayog continued to declare her innocence and denounced the board and the way it has treated her. Dr. Bean-Bayog said the hearing would be a "media circus" staged for "purely political purposes."Confession Unacceptable
Dr. Bean-Bayog, who is 48 years old, said she wished to resign rather than endure "any further pandering to the public appetite for preposterous, salacious scandal." She specifically denounced both the state Secretary of Consumer Affairs, Gloria Larson, who has jurisdiction over the medical board, and Mr. Fabiano.
"I am not resigning because I fear the potential outcome of this hearing process," she wrote. "It is the process itself, which has already taken a heavy toll on me and my family, and not any potential verdict, that I find daunting."In the last few weeks Dr. Bean-Bayog had been negotiating with the board for a settlement, but in her letter she said the board's offer to suspend her license was unacceptable because, she wrote, "It required me to confess to conduct I did not commit."Sexual Fantasies Documented
The medical board had prepared a strong case against her, people familiar with the case said, and it would have introduced evidence questioning her therapy methods and suggesting that she had become sexually involved with her patient, Paul Lozano, a Harvard Medical School student. Mr. Lozano, who began therapy with Dr. Bean-Bayog in 1986, killed himself with a large overdose of cocaine in April 1991 after she had stopped treating him.
Mr. Lozano's family has filed a lawsuit against Dr. Bean-Bayog charging her with malpractice and wrongful death. Andrew Meyer, the Lozano family's lawyer, said that Dr. Bean-Bayog's resignation would tend to help the family's case. Allegations Attract Notoriety
The case has attracted enormous national attention because of the sexual allegations and because of 3,000 pages of medical records introduced by Mr. Meyer that include sexual fantasies written by Dr. Bean-Bayog. At least two books and two television movies are in the works, and some of the hearing was to have been televised on Court TV. Officials of the state Division of Administrative Law Appeals, an independent state agency that is conducting the hearing, said they had received so many requests for press credentials that they had decided to move the proceeding to the State House auditorium, with a seating capacity of 600.
Dr. Bean-Bayog and some of her friends in the psychiatric community have said she is being unfairly singled out because she is a woman. They have argued that neither the press nor the medical board would have pursued the case so vigorously if she were a man.
Another psychiatrist, Dr. William Barry Gault, who also treated Mr. Lozano, first reported possible abuse by Dr. Bean-Bayog in late 1990. But it was not until last March, after Mr. Meyer filed 3,000 pages of evidence with the court and after the press subsequently began reporting about the case, that the medical board began its inquiry.Mr. Meyer's evidence included sadomasochistic sexual fantasies handwritten by Dr. Bean-Bayog, allegedly about Mr. Lozano, and flashcards she gave him.
One of the cards said: "Run over these cards every day until you know them all by heart and are starting to believe them." Another said, "I'm your mom and I love you and you love me very, very much. Say that 10 times." Still another said, "I'm going to miss so many things about you, the closeness and the need and the phenomenal sex."
Dr. Bean-Bayog has argued that these are examples of an accepted therapeutic technique called transference, in which the patient is asked to imagine the therapist as his mother.
Therapists often take patients back to their childhood to discover the source of troubling emotions. But Dr. Howard Zonana, a professor of psychiatry at Yale Medical School, said: "It is one thing if you do this in a role-playing session. It's another thing if someone's reality is getting confused. Most doctors would not actually say they are the mom."
The most serious allegations against Dr. Bean-Bayog, and those that would provide the board with its clearest cause to strip her of her license, are very hard to prove: that she sexually abused Mr. Lozano and that she contributed to his death. Dr. Bean-Bayog has denied any sexual involvement with Mr. Lozano.
Nevertheless, the board appeared ready to try to prove these accusations. Its expanded list of charges, filed in June, includes one that she "improperly conducted and utilized psychotherapy sessions." According to people familiar with the case, the board will use this to introduce testimony from several other psychiatrists who treated Mr. Lozano that he had told them she slept with him and masturbated in front of him during therapy sessions.
'Somewhat Unconventional'On the issue of suicide, the board's charges contend that "Dr. Bean-Bayog's failure to conform to the standards of accepted medical practice caused harm to Paul Lozano." The board is expected to call expert witness on that subject.
A second difficulty is that while the medical board has charged Dr. Bean-Bayog with failing "to conform to the standards of accepted medical practice," there is widespread disagreement among therapists about the boundaries of proper psychotherapy. In one of her few public statements, Dr. Bean-Bayog acknowledged that her treatment was "somewhat unconventional," but she asserted that this was necessary because Mr. Lozano was an especially troubled patient.
a followup and conclusion to earlier reports. As reported by Reuters.
Psychiatrist and broadcaster Dr Raj Persaud has been found unfit to practice after he admitted plagiarising other people's work, the medical watchdog said on Friday.
His conduct was "inappropriate, misleading, dishonest and liable to bring the profession into disrepute", a General Medical Council panel found.
He had undermined public confidence in the profession and his conduct had "fallen below the standards of behaviour the public expected from doctors", it added.
Persaud had admitted copying four pieces of work for his 2003 book "From the Edge of the Couch" during a GMC disciplinary hearing in Manchester this week.
The former presenter of the BBC Radio 4 programme "All in the Mind" also admitted copying passages from two other pieces of work in a series of newspaper articles and journals.
He was resident psychiatrist on the daytime TV show "This Morning" and has appeared on the "Richard & Judy" show. He has also written for The Daily Telegraph and The Independent.
Persaud had denied dishonesty, but the GMC said he must have known what he was doing. He had said he was in a confused mental state at the time of writing the work because of the pressure of juggling his work for the media and the National Health Service.
"Your dishonest conduct brings the profession into disrepute and the panel has... concluded that your fitness to practise is impaired by reason of your misconduct," the GMC said in a written judgement.
"The panel has determined that your dishonest conduct in plagiarising other people's work on multiple occasions represents a serious breach of the principles that are central to good medical practice.
"Your conduct has fallen below the standards of behaviour that the public is entitled to expect from doctors and undermines public confidence in the profession."
While the panel said no patients had been injured it still had an obligation to protect the profession's reputation.
"Doctors occupy a position of privilege and trust in society and are expected to act with integrity and to uphold proper standards of conduct," the panel said.
Persaud is a consultant psychiatrist at the Bethlem Royal and Maudsley Hospitals and Gresham professor for Public Understanding of Psychiatry.
In 2002, he was voted one of the top 10 psychiatrists in the UK by a survey of the Institute of Psychiatry and the Royal College of Psychiatrists.
As seen in this report by Charlene Muhammad of FinalCall.Com. While we acknowledge that some news reports from the Black Muslim community can be controversial, there are also many items that are woefully underreported. We are breaking this up into three sections, with the first one posted below today:
The Rev. Fred Shaw, Jr., of the Basic Life Institute in Compton, Calif., has been working with troubled youth and gang-bangers for over a decade. But as he tries to help them turn their lives around, the specter of drugs has surfaced. Not illegal drugs, like crack cocaine or meth, but legal drugs that the activist is concerned with.
He believes psychotropic drugs, like Ritalin, are over-prescribed, and hastily dispensed to control young people, instead of helping them deal with serious emotional and social problems. “We don’t even know the full scope of the impact of these drugs on our youth and people don’t care enough to test whether or not it’s the stimulants that are causing them to shoot and violently kill one another,” he said.
Before working with the Basic Life Institute, the Rev. Shaw co-owned a group home and was stunned by the number of Black youth that were medicated. “African Americans are 16 percent of the nation’s student population but we’re 32 percent of students being drugged, but it’s so entrenched into the system that people have bought into the process wholesale,” he said.
He believes authorities stopped referring clients because he opposed drugging of youth in his group home. The activist also believes mental health drug campaigns are well orchestrated and pushed by pharmaceutical companies. “They fund the psychiatric research, then the psychiatrists develop diagnoses which allows the companies to sell their drugs through them. One hand is washing the other, and they have studied normal adolescent behaviors and made them mental disorders,” Rev. Shaw charged.
Psychotropic drugs are prescribed to treat mental disorders and diseases. That means the same drugs may be used to calm youngsters who are hyper and to stimulate young people who may be depressed.
The most common diagnosis that results in drug treatments is Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). According to the FDA, ADHD accounts for up to 50 percent of mental health referrals for children and at least 7.5 percent of all school-aged children are affected by ADHD. The National Center for Health Statistics reports that 4.7 million children between 3-17 years of age were diagnosed with ADHD. The percentage of boys was 9.5 percent while girls comprised 5.9 percent.
The fears voiced by Rev. Shaw aren’t new and Black psychologists have raised questions about the impact and long-term effects of drugging Black children diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder. Some federal warnings boost their worries.
Last year, the Food and Drug Administration ordered manufacturers of psychotropic drugs to develop patient medication guides to warn of possible cardiovascular risks associated with the drugs. Such drugs, which include Ritalin, Concerta, Adderall and Strattera, are usually given to children diagnosed with ADD or ADHD. Side affects include anxiety or nervousness; headache or dizziness; insomnia; headache, stomach pain, sleeplessness and decreased appetite.
Early last year, the FDA also indicated that ADHD medicines showed a slight risk (about 1 per 1,000) for drug-related psychiatric adverse events, including hearing voices, becoming suspicious for no reason, or becoming manic, even in patients who did not have previous psychiatric problems.
The Centers for Disease Control lists symptoms of ADHD as often fidgeting with hands or feet; squirming in seat; running or climbing when inappropriate; feeling restless; often on the go and talks excessively; and often acting as if driven by a motor.
According to Dr. Ronald Beavers, a psychologist with the Positive Imagery Foundation in South Los Angeles, Black children are disproportionately represented because their needs are greater.
“Our children are locked more into the system and when you look at the statistics and those in foster care and up for adoption, and see what ethnic group is overrepresented, question marks should be coming up because it’s African Americans. Eighty percent of adoptions and 80 percent of foster care are Black children,” Dr. Beavers told The Final Call.
Alternatives to drugs, like group counseling, life skills and culturally competent parenting education, are usually counted out because they cost time and money, he added.
“The ultimate alternative for Blacks is learning how to live,” Dr. Beavers said.
An employee with the Los Angeles Department of Children and Family Services told The Final Call, the department tracks foster care children who are taking psychotropic drugs, but the numbers are not easy to get. Even high-ranking employees find it difficult to get the actual facts about the drugging of children because the numbers are an embarrassment to the department, said the employee, who has a background in social work. The employee asked to remain anonymous.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
The Issue of Competency to Stand TrialA surprising development was testimony of witnesses who verified that Lindauer had predicted a major terrorist attack in New York City more than a year before the 9/11 attacks
After initially evaluating Lindauer, court appointed psychiatrists in New York argued that her clams of innocence and her willingness to produce witnesses to verify those claims were signs of delusional thinking. However, a Maryland based psychiatrist and two psychotherapists with whom Lindauer visited on a regular basis failed to support the notion of delusions or a debilitating mental illness. Lindauer has told federal authorities continuously that she was a U.S. intelligence asset and she offered to prove that in open court.
Prosecutors typically disparage appeals by defendants to delay or avoid trial based on psychological stress or suffering. This case is an exception. The United States Government is the party delaying the trial based on their claims of Lindauer's inability to assist in her own defense.
Today's testimony was limited to what is known as "lay" witnesses. Lindauer's expert witness, a distinguished psychiatrist and academic, will testify at a July 7, 2008 hearing that she's competent to stand trial.
Lindauer triggered today's hearing by refusing to attend court mandated counseling, a court requirement during her periods of release from 11 months of federal detention. In a recent interview in "Scoop," Lindauer said: "Since August, 2007, I have refused to go back [to court mandated counseling]. I told the Court the game is over. Go to trial or drop the charges, which are ridiculous anyway. They don't have a case, and they know it."
A surprise development occurred at today's hearing in the case of Susan Lindauer versus the United States. A long time associate of the accused, associate professor of computer science at Toronto's York University, Parke Godfrey, Ph.D., testified that Susan Lindauer predicted an attack on the United States in the southern part of Manhattan. According to his testimony, she said that the attack would be very similar to the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. Godfrey said that Lindauer made the prediction on several occasions, one as late as August 2001.
The testimony occurred in a hearing on Lindauer's competence to stand trial held before U.S. District Court Judge Loretta Preska, Southern District of New York, in lower Manhattan. On March 11, 2004, Lindauer was arrested for acting as an "unregistered agent" for the nation of Iraq prior to the U.S. invasion. Prosecutors have delayed the trial for over four years claiming Lindauer was delusional for asserting that she was a U.S. intelligence asset over a period of nine years, including the period covered by the indictment.
This was Lindauer's first real opportunity to argue her competence to stand trial and deny the delusions claimed by court psychiatrists. Lindauer asserts that she had been a U.S. intelligence asset since working on the Lockerbie case and subsequent antiterrorism efforts.
Appearing for the defense, Dr. Godfrey testified under oath that Lindauer told him of her specific concerns about an attack on the United States. She told him that a "massive" attack would occur in the southern part of Manhattan, involving airplanes and possibly a nuclear weapon. The witness said that she mentioned this in the year 2000, which coincided with the Lockerbie trial. And then in 2001, Lindauer also mentioned the anticipated attack in the spring, 2001 and then August 2001. Godfrey said, at that time, Lindauer thought an attack was "imminent" and that it would complete what was started in the 1993 bombing (the original World Trade Center bombing).
After the hearing, Lindauer elaborated that this extreme threat scenario was done in concert with the man she says was one of her CIA handler, Dr. Richard Fuisz, who has been associated with U.S. intelligence.
Federal prosecutor Edward O'Callaghan tried to diminish the prediction by asking Godfrey if Lindauer presented this a "prophesy". Godfrey denied hearing that word mentioned in their conversations. He stated that Lindauer used the term "premonition." The prosecution did not challenge Godfrey's testimony that Lindauer made the predictions in the time period given by the witness. After the hearing, Lindauer said that she'd called the Department of Justice Office of Counterterrorism in August of 2001 reporting her fears about an attack.
The courtroom where the revelation was made is about a 15 minute walk from the site of September 11, 2001 attack where the former World Trade Center towers once stood.
What Dick Cheney is to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, psychiatrist Joseph Biederman is to the explosion of psychiatric medications in American children. Recently, Biederman was nailed by congressional investigators and the New York Times for overestimating just how greedy an elite shrink is entitled to be. Beyond a peek into the corruption of psychiatry at its highest levels, the scandal is an opportunity to reconsider the Big Pharma financed view of why kids become disruptive and destructive.
On June 8, 2008, the New York Times reported the following about Joseph Biederman: "A world-renowned Harvard child psychiatrist whose work has helped fuel an explosion in the use of powerful anti-psychotic medicines in children earned at least $1.6 million in consulting fees from drug makers from 2000 to 2007 but for years did not report much of this income to university officials, according to information given congressional investigators."
Due in part to Biederman's influence, the number of American children and adolescents treated for bipolar disorder increased 40-fold from 1994 to 2003, and as Bloomberg News reported (September 2007), "The expanded use of bipolar as a pediatric diagnosis has made children the fastest-growing part of the $11.5 billion U.S. market for anti-psychotic drugs."
Pediatrician and author Lawrence Diller notes about Biederman, "He single-handedly put pediatric bipolar disorder on the map." Biederman has been in a position to convince many doctors to diagnose bipolar disorder in children and to medicate them with anti-psychotic drugs. In addition to being a professor at Harvard, Biederman is also chief of research in pediatric psychopharmacology at the Massachusetts General Hospital, which publishes more than 30 papers yearly on psychiatric disorders. And Biederman himself has authored and co-authored approximately 500 articles, 70 book chapters, and more than 450 scientific abstracts, as well as being on the editorial board of many professional journals.
Biederman (and two of his colleagues in the psychiatry department at Harvard Medical School who received an additional $2.6 million from drug companies from 2000 to 2007), by failing to report income from drug companies while at the same time receiving federal funds from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), violated rules designed to police conflicts of interest, according to Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa. Grassley concluded, "Obviously, if a researcher is taking money from a drug company while also receiving federal dollars to research that company's product, then there is a conflict of interest." In one example, Biederman neglected to report his 2001 income from Johnson & Johnson (makers of the anti-psychotic drug Risperdal); Johnson & Johnson reported to Grassley that it had paid Biederman $58,169 in 2001.
In addition to his popularization of bipolar disorder for children, Biederman is one of the most significant forces behind the commonplace diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Congressional investigators also found that Biederman conducted studies of Eli Lilly's attention deficit hyperactivity disorder drug Strattera that were funded by NIH at the same time he was receiving money from Lilly that exceeded the maximum amount permitted.
NIH rules state that researchers cannot take more than $20,000 in payments from a drug company whose drug they are funded by NIH to research and that researchers must disclose any payment received from a drug company of $10,000 or more. Apparently, for drug researchers taking federal funding from NIH, there is no law against being on the take from drug companies, but there are rules against greed.
Mental health treatment in the United States is now a multibillion-dollar industry, and all the rules of industrial complexes apply. Not only does Big Pharma have influential psychiatrists such as Biederman in their pocket, virtually every mental health institution from which doctors, the press, and the general public receive their mental health information is financially interconnected with Big Pharma. The American Psychiatric Association, psychiatry's professional organization, is hugely dependent on drug company grants, and this is also true for the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill and other so-called consumer organizations. Harvard and other prestigious university psychiatry departments take millions of dollars from drug companies, and the National Institute of Mental Health funds researchers who are financially connected with drug companies.
The corporate media, dependent on drug company advertising, occasionally reports on egregious scandals, but the corporate media is generally timid in reporting the big picture of how drug companies spread around millions of dollars to make billions of dollars.
There are certainly many troubled and disruptive American children who are sometimes extremely destructive to themselves or others. However, any attempt to understand these kids will be corrupted by financial dependency on drug companies, which have a vested interest in viewing all attentional, emotional, and behavioral difficulties as diseases that can be fixed with drugs.
There are several commonsense nondisease reasons why children become troubled and behave disruptively and destructively. For more than two decades, I have worked with annoying, disruptive, and destructive children. Many of these children had been previously diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, bipolar disorder, and other serious psychiatric diagnoses, and they were routinely given a variety of drug combinations. Their parents most often reported that drugs were prescribed after being questioned by doctors about symptoms but without any exploration of reasons as to why their children were behaving as they did.
In America's assembly-line medicine, drug prescriptions are routinely written without any exploration of commonsense reasons as to why a child might be behaving problematically. Is the child resentful over a perceived injustice? Is the child experiencing deep emotional pain? Is the child simply bored? Does the child feel powerless? Does the child have low self-worth because a lack of life skills and thus behaves immaturely so no expectations are placed on him or her? Is the child starving for attention? Has the child lost respect for his or her parents because these adults have not acted like adults? Has the child's basic physical needs -- such as proper nutrition, physical activity, or sleep -- not been met? Routinely, few if any of these areas are explored before a prescription is written.
One of the most common reasons that children behave problematically is that well-meaning parents are having difficulty relating to their child's personality. Perhaps the parents are, by nature, compliant and conformist, and their child has a nonconformist and rebellious temperament. Good parents feel guilty when they have difficulty relating to their child, but all of us -- including doctors -- are human, and we all need to admit our limitations. The reality is that children who feel that nobody "gets them" are more likely to be troubled and disruptive. In another era, if a parent had difficulty relating to his or her child, there would more likely be at least one grandparent, uncle, aunt, friend, or other adult in the community who could easily relate. In our increasingly disconnected society (see Robert Putnam's Bowling Alone for a detailed picture of the destruction of American community), there are increasing numbers of children without even one adult who they believe relates to them.
Moreover, as society demands increasing machinelike efficiency, more of us -- children and adults -- will not be able to fit in; but a corporate media cannot confront a corporate culture that produces widespread painful alienation, which in turn creates a variety of attentional, emotional and behavioral problems. The corporate media may at times report on egregious corruption of an individual or an institution, but it does not ask this question: In an increasingly homogenized and standardized society, should we drug those who do not neatly fit in -- or should we consider transforming such a society?
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
As reported in the medical journal the Lancet; here's the abstract:
Food additives and hyperactive behaviour in 3-year-old and 8/9-year-old children in the community: a randomised, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial
Donna McCann PhD a, Angelina Barrett BSc a, Alison Cooper MSc a, Debbie Crumpler BSc a, Lindy Dalen PhD a, Kate Grimshaw MSc b, Elizabeth Kitchin BSc a, Kris Lok MSc a, Lucy Porteous BSc a, Emily Prince MSc a, Prof Edmund Sonuga-Barke PhD a, Prof John O Warner MD c and Prof Jim Stevenson PhD email address a Corresponding Author Information
We undertook a randomised, double-blinded, placebo-controlled, crossover trial to test whether intake of artificial food colour and additives (AFCA) affected childhood behaviour.
153 3-year-old and 144 8/9-year-old children were included in the study. The challenge drink contained sodium benzoate and one of two AFCA mixes (A or B) or a placebo mix. The main outcome measure was a global hyperactivity aggregate (GHA), based on aggregated z-scores of observed behaviours and ratings by teachers and parents, plus, for 8/9-year-old children, a computerised test of attention. This clinical trial is registered with Current Controlled Trials (registration number ISRCTN74481308). Analysis was per protocol.
16 3-year-old children and 14 8/9-year-old children did not complete the study, for reasons unrelated to childhood behaviour. Mix A had a significantly adverse effect compared with placebo in GHA for all 3-year-old children (effect size 0·20 [95% CI 0·01–0·39], p=0·044) but not mix B versus placebo. This result persisted when analysis was restricted to 3-year-old children who consumed more than 85% of juice and had no missing data (0·32 [0·05–0·60], p=0·02). 8/9-year-old children showed a significantly adverse effect when given mix A (0·12 [0·02–0·23], p=0·023) or mix B (0·17 [0·07–0·28], p=0·001) when analysis was restricted to those children consuming at least 85% of drinks with no missing data.
Artificial colours or a sodium benzoate preservative (or both) in the diet result in increased hyperactivity in 3-year-old and 8/9-year-old children in the general population.
a. School of Psychology, Department of Child Health, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK
b. School of Medicine, Department of Child Health, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK
c. Department of Paediatrics, Imperial College, London, UK
British Celebrity and TV psychiatrist Raj Persaud admits to plagerism, says he copied work from books
This is turning into a major scandal for psychiatry in the UK. As reported in the Times OnlineRaj Persaud, the celebrity psychiatrist, yesterday admitted copying the work of other scholars for publication in his book and in articles that he submitted. appearances on television shows such as This Morning, admitted plagiarising four articles in From The Edge of the Couch, a book published in 2003.
A hearing at the General Medical Council (GMC) in Manchester was told that Dr Persaud also admitted passing off other scholars’ work as his own in articles published in journals and national newspapers. Dr Persaud, who appeared regularly on the BBC Radio 4 programme All In The Mind, said that his actions were neither dishonest nor liable to bring his profession into disrepute. For some of the duplication Dr Persaud blamed a computer “cutting and pasting” error, the panel was told.
Jeremy Donne, QC, counsel for the GMC, said that Dr Persaud had benefited financially from the “hard work and scholarship” of other people.
“The articles, we say, speak for themselves and they all demonstrate the extent Dr Persaud has appropriated the work of others as his own,” he said. “We further allege that Dr Persaud has been dishonest. Dishonesty can be inferred from his repeated conduct in plagiarising the work of academics . . . thereby enhancing his professional reputation and standing with the public as well as enhancing himself in the press.”
Mr Donne said that Dr Persaud blamed subeditors after an article that he wrote for The Times Educational Supplement (TES) in February 2005 did not acknowledge the scholar whose work he copied. Thomas Blass, a professor at the University of Mary-land in America, complained and was told, in an e-mail by Dr Persaud, that he thought he had given him a mention.The TES acknowledged that Dr Persaud had copied the work of another scholar, Mr Donne said. “It’s quite clear that the TES were not taking responsibility for subbing errors in their apology.”
The GMC panel was told that allegations of plagiarism against Dr Persaud were first made in an article in The Sunday Times in April 2006. At the time Dr Persaud was a consultant psychiatrist for the South London and Maudsley NHS Trust, a position he still holds. He was also a director of the now defunct Centre for Public Engagement in Mental Health Sciences at the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College, University of London. He withdrew from this honorary position after the allegations emerged.
Mr Donne said that Dr Persaud was being disingenuous by claiming that he had acknowledged the original con-tributors to his book. He revealed that Dr Persaud asked for and received permission to quote an article by a Professor Bentall for his book. “Professor Bentall gave his permission assuming that Dr Persaud . . . would know that quotations would have appeared in parenthesis and be properly attributed.” Having seen the passage Professor Bentall was astonished that a substantial portion of his paper had simply been copied into the book in what he believes was a deliberate act of plagiarism.”
Mr Donne said that the British Medical Journal was forced to issue an “unequivocal retraction” in September 2005 after publishing an article by Dr Persaud in which he failed to attribute his work correctly. The journal subsequently declined to publish another of his articles.The hearing continues.
Monday, June 16, 2008
As reported in the Independant - highlights from the article given below
The number of powerful psychiatric drugs prescribed to England's children has risen by more than half in four years, government figures have revealed.The article also includes a summary of a few horror stories in the system, as seen below:
GPs in England are handing out prescriptions for anti-psychotic drugs for children as young as seven at the rate of 250 a day, according to figures obtained by The Independent on Sunday.
Latest data compiled for the NHS show that tranquillisers designed to treat serious conditions including schizophrenia in adults were prescribed to young people 57,000 times in 2003. But the total had risen to more than 90,000 by 2006 – a 59 per cent rise in three years. The figures do not include drugs dispensed in hospitals. Experts believe the increase is partly down to early detection and treatment of serious mental health problems in children, but there is also concern they are being used inappropriately to treat psychological and learning difficulties. Shortage of staff and resources are further factors.
The drugs, which are designed to treat symptoms such as visual hallucinations, hearing voices and delusional thoughts, have serious side effects including weight gain, tiredness, sexual dysfunction and lactation. The safety and effectiveness of these drugs, which were designed for adults, have not been fully tested on children.
Official guidelines say they should be used only as part of a wider treatment package, but there are concerns GPs are relying on them too heavily because other treatments are unavailable. Some GPs, however, stand accused of ignoring or being ignorant of the guidelines.
England's mental health chief, Louis Appleby, said, "We are aware that anti-psychotic drugs are sometimes used as a last resort by clinicians dealing with highly disturbed behaviours in young people, and we are now considering how to prepare clinical guidance on this area of practice."
Psychiatrists and mental health charities have warned against using anti-psychotic drugs on developing minds. Paul Corry, director of public affairs for the mental health charity Rethink, said: "It is worrying that these very powerful drugs designed for adults are being given in such high numbers to children before their brains are fully developed.
MPs and pressure groups have already complained about the use of anti-psychotic drugs in care homes to manage people with dementia – often to treat "behaviour that is neither distressing nor threatening, such as restlessness or being vocal".
But experts have raised further concerns about their growing use on young people. A study by the University of London's School of Pharmacy last month found that the prescription of the drugs to children almost doubled between 1992 and 2005 – with the greatest increase among children aged seven to 12.
Figures provided for the IoS from the NHS Prescription Cost Analysis (PCA) system prove that the trend has continued to rise dramatically. The increase in costs can be partly explained by the move towards prescribing newer or atypical drugs, which are more expensive but generally have fewer and less severe side effects.
When Elaine Hewis's teenage daughter was admitted to a psychiatric hospital in 2004, she assumed the treatment would be far removed from that she herself had received. But Mrs Hewis, 43, was wrong. She said: "The doctors had prescribed her anti-psychotics within days. But despite my pleas they refused to tell her about the side effects because they were worried she wouldn't take them if she knew.
"When she came to me distressed because her breasts were leaking milk, I told her this had happened to me and again tried to get the doctors to be honest with her. They then tried to remove me as her nearest relative because they felt I was a bad influence."
New teams have been brought in to catch cases early. Psychiatrists and nurses would work closely with teachers, youth workers, school nurses, family therapists, social workers and psychologists. While progress has been made, the reality is that many of these teams have few resources and the emphasis is often on drug treatments.
Mr Corry said: "It is a crying shame because early intervention is one of the rare parts of mental health with an evidence base. If we get to people early and treat them with a combination of psychological, social and medical intervention, then their chances of a full recovery increase dramatically. But you need to do all of these things, not just the medication."
Clinical psychologist Rufus May was treated with anti-psychotics as a teenager. He believes the drugs stop a young person from understanding their symptoms and from learning skills to manage difficult experiences by trying to block them out. He said: "The early intervention movement has turned into the early drugging movement. These very powerful drugs can affect the emotional and cognitive development of a young person as well as sapping them of their confidence and motivation."
'No one ever talked about side effects with me, not once'
Lucy Bennett, 19, from Exeter, lives with her seven-month-old son Harvey. For a year she lived in psychiatric hospitals with medication the only option.
"By the time I was 15 I had every problem you can imagine. I was into drugs, alcohol, boys, and had stopped going to school. After years of growing up with my mum's mental illness and alcohol problems, I was on a road to self-destruction. I finally told a psychiatrist in A&E I was hearing voices after which I was admitted to hospital straight away.
"I felt terrible. I was all over the place, so when the doctors and nurses told me the medication would make me feel better, I took them. In some ways I did feel a bit better. I was a complete zombie and sleeping all the time which meant I didn't care about the voices any more, but they were still there.
"Within days I had started leaking milk from my breast. It was awful. I swapped medication and within three months I had put on three stone. I was so depressed at being a size 16 I started making myself sick. I ended up with bulimia as well.
"As soon as I decided I didn't want to take the drugs I was sectioned and forcibly injected. I ended pretending the voices had gone just so I could get out. Drugs were the only option. I had a psychology session for an hour a week and a few family therapy sessions but that was it. No one ever talked about side effects with me, not once. I ended up having to get information from my mum and other patients.
"Three years later I am medication free and learning new ways to cope with my voices. I have a great community psychiatric nurse, who lets me keep some medication for emergencies, but I'm in control now. There is no way I could look after my son if I was still on the medication. I know they can help some people but they didn't help me. I should have been given the choice."
Friday, June 13, 2008
As seen in the Mercury News. Here's the essential tidbit:
"12-year-old Ryan was having trouble paying attention to the home-school tasks his mother, Cindy Withers of San Jose, set for him. Determined to avoid drugs such as Ritalin, Withers opted for brain-training instead.As noted elsewhere:
At his psychologist's office, Ryan's treatment included specialized video games that responded to his brain waves. By remaining focused, the boy was able to propel digital spaceships or race cars. His mother says the therapy gave him a "can-do" attitude and improved his school work."
So here's the AMAZING CONCLUSION: Turns out that teaching your kids to pay attention works better than drugging them into submission. Amazing!
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Looks like the politicians have figured out that getting your whistleblowers declared crazy solves everything. Now, if it wasn't for those pesky witnesses and documentations ... Sadly this reminds me of a psychiatrist joke we featured last year, except that is has come true in real life.
We have also put a link to this story on DIGG and on Reddit, so vote this story up, please, if you have an account there.
As seen in the New Zealand news site the Scoop
Also check out previous "Scoop" coverage of Susan Lindauer's ordeal by Michael Collins:
- Bush Political Prisoner Gets Her Day in Court 11 June 2008
- American Cassandra: Susan Lindauer's Story 17 October 2007
Michael Collins "Scoop" Independent News
Washington, D.C.This article may be reproduced in part or in whole with attribution of authorship and a link to the original article.On March 11, 2004, Susan Lindauer was shocked to find FBI Agents pounding on the door of her Takoma Park house in Maryland with a warrant for her arrest. She was more shocked to discover that she was accused of acting as an "unregistered agent" of the Iraqi government under Saddam Hussein.
It's been four years since her federal indictment. On June 17, Lindauer will have her first pre-trial hearing, where she will be allowed to call witnesses to disprove the allegations.
Lindauer has never been tried in a court of law—nor allowed any pre-trial hearing to call witnesses to validate claims that she worked as an Asset supervised by U.S. intelligence for 9 years. Instead, she was forced to submit to a psychological evaluation inside a prison on a Texas military base, where she was held for seven months before getting transferred to New York. In all, she was detained for 11 months without a conviction or a guilty plea. Pro se motions for a hearing to prove the authenticity of her claims were ignored.
The psych evaluation culminated in a finding that she was incompetent to stand trial, on the grounds that she was "deluded" into believing that she had worked as a U.S. asset or would not get convicted. The coup de gras was a formal request by federal prosecutors to forcibly drug Lindauer with Haldol in order to cure her of those claims and beliefs, so that she could stand trial. She would be formally cured when she stopped declaring that witnesses would substantiate her story.
This interview follows an article yesterday summarizing the case to date and the critical June 17, 2008 hearing in federal court, Southern District, Manhattan before Judge Preska. The hearing is open to the public at the defendant's request.
Collins: When you were indicted there was a broad range of media covering your story. After about a month, things seemed to go dark with the mainstream media. How has your story stayed alive?
Lindauer: I am shocked and disappointed that the mainstream media has failed to cover developments in this story. I hope that's going to change after this hearing, because a functional media is vital to protecting citizens from arbitrary and tyrannical government decisions. By contrast, the bloggers, have kept me alive. During my incarceration, friends like JB Fields (now deceased) smoked the blogs with outrage. He urged folks to write Judge Mukasey. To his own credit, Judge Mukasey actually called a court meeting when JB's readers sent letters and papers to the Court contradicting the official Psych evaluations. Judge Mukasey wanted to know why that documentation was available on the internet but not in his courtroom. He demanded a formal explanation from the Prosecutor and my own attorney, accounting for the discrepancies in their psych reporting. JB Fields blog – and all the other bloggers who picked it up-- saved my life and my freedom. No question.
Collins: You've been in court at least 15 times over four years regarding this case. What's different about this hearing?
Lindauer: The other meetings are called "status meetings." It's a formality to show that I'm still in the system. This is the first time I have been granted the right to call witnesses into court to authenticate my story. The Prosecutor has said that I am incompetent to stand trial because I am convinced of my innocence and cannot grasp that I might be convicted. Specifically, the Prosecution has used psychiatry to argue that my belief that I worked as an Asset for the U.S. Government constitutes delusional thinking. In a bizarre legal twist, the Prosecutor has argued that since I am delusional, I should be denied the right to call witnesses to prove that I am telling the Truth. Allegedly, my belief in the existence of witnesses is a function of my delusional belief in my innocence. Is that crazy or what? Talk about Kafkaesque!
Carswell's report was significant in one way that must be noted: Their staff testified that I suffer no depression, no bipolar disorder, no schizophrenia, no hallucinations or hearing voices. They said that I was socially interactive and my behavior was appropriate to the detention. Dr. Vas testified before Judge Mukasey, "that he looked really hard, but he couldn't find anything" after 7 months incarceration.
Collins: Of all the affronts and stress you've experienced in this open ended prosecution, what's been the most offensive element?
Lindauer: I am furious about the abuse that I have suffered. I regard this as a Soviet-style attack on my rights to dissent from the government. After my arrest, I was ordered to attend weekly psych meetings for a year, during which we discussed articles in the Washington Post—and nothing else. After Carswell, I spent another year in court-ordered psych meetings. The only point of conversation was how psychology has grievously harmed my life, depriving me of freedom, damaging my reputation, and terrorizing me by interfering with my rights to call participatory witnesses, who could straighten out the matter within minutes. Beyond that, the court quack surfed the internet looking for clothes and weekend entertainment for her daughter. Since August, 2007, I have refused to go back. I told the Court the game is over. Go to trial or drop the charges, which are ridiculous anyway. They don't have a case, and they know it..
Psychiatry was corrupt enough to help the Bush White House out of a jam, which says a lot. Forensic psychiatry is a profitable business. In my opinion they are charlatans and court prostitutes who are abusing their access to the Courts in order to get money out of the state and federal budgets. They have little or no value. For myself, I have never engaged in therapy or counseling. I would never confide personal affairs to them, or listen to anything they have to say. In a weird twist, anything I say could get reported to pre-trial services. It's not private. They were a huge waste of my time, burning the clock on my 6th Amendment rights.
Collins: How do you react to your treatment by the prosecution and their mental health experts?
Lindauer: Psychiatrists are terrified of witness testimony to the point of psychotic reaction. They're so insecure as to be deeply threatened that reality will impose limitations on their phony authority in the courtroom.
The consequence for due process of law is quite terrifying. One horrific shrink—Dr. Robert L. Goldstein, a Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at Columbia University-- actually testified that the depth of my belief in witness testimony confirmed the "seriousness of my mental illness." He said the Court must be patient and tolerant of my requests to call witnesses. He said it showed I was still very sick, and the Court should pity me for not understanding that these people were a figment of my imagination.
I was a prisoner in shackles at the time. I experienced a total state of shock that this corrupt quack could actual testify that my requests for due process demonstrated my incompetence to stand trial. As a "professional psychiatrist"—who had never spoken to me OR my witnesses, Goldstein nonetheless assured the Court that he would stake his professional reputation on their non-existence.
It was the most terrifying and Kafkaesque experience of my life. Truly it proves that psychiatry is out of control in the Courts. They invent and fabricate, and if the truth contradicts them, they don't even care. As Dr. Vas at Carswell put it, "we'll just tell the Court you made it up. Who do you think the Judge is going to believe? You or me? I am a doctor!"
I am firmly convinced that Congress must change the laws so that defendants can file for punitive damages against this sort of quackery. Judges should have the right to file sanctions against psychiatrists who blatantly lie to the Court—which would have to be reported to other Judges, if they testify in other cases. In the most extreme cases of outright perjury, wherein the psychiatrist verifies the truthfulness of a defendant's story and then lies about it as a so-called expert witness, then the matter should be turned over to a grand jury for indictment. I have no mercy for this garbage.
Collins: The wheels of justice grind slowly for you. It's been almost four years and there hasn't even been an evidentiary hearing. How could the process have been simplified?
Lindauer: If the Court wanted to know if my witnesses would validate my story, the Judge could very easily have set a hearing date & called everybody into Court to answer questions. Authenticity would have been established, one way or the other, within the first 15 minutes of testimony. Then the question would be answered. Finished. That's Due Process 101.
What does this say about psychology in the court-room???
In my experience, court psychology is rife with corruption and fraud. Immediately after my arrest four years ago, the psychologist referred me to himself, and then was shocked to find out that I was wholly disinterested in anything he had to say. I told him that I had no intention of changing anything about myself. In one year I intended to be exactly the same person that I was when I walked into his office.
I took a cook-book to the first meeting and forced him to listen to recitations of recipes, sans commentary. When he asked if I intended to cook any of the recipes, I assured him that I would never do such a thing. I said that I consider his insights to be as useless as a recipe that I would never bake.
He had the sense to be embarrassed. From that day on, he always had a copy of the Washington Post, and we discussed news articles and current affairs. That continued for a year. He might have enjoyed it. I didn't. I don't recall that we discussed anything except my complaints about how our court-ordered psych meetings interfered with my employment, since the bail order stopped me from working full time. I had to take a part-time job, which killed me financially. I made perfectly clear that he was wasting my time.
After almost a year of this, I told him point blank that I refused to continue. I told him that he contributed nothing to my life, except to stop me from buying groceries, paying my utilities, and forcing me to borrow money to pay my mortgage and my property taxes-- because he was so selfish as to persist in interfering with my employment, so he could make money off the court.
Collins: What happened after this period of "freedom" after your initial hearings.
Lindauer: Life got to be good again until the fateful day when i was ordered to go to Carswell.
I was told that I would be held for no more than 120 days. That's 4 months. And Judge Mukasey's clerk assured my uncle, who attended the court date, that more likely I would be home within 60 days, because the Judge expected the psych evaluation to be finished rapidly. Then it would be over. Ok, I could do that. I'm a pretty tough lady.
I went in on October 3, 2005 and waited for my release. I got tons of letters of encouragement from friends. I stayed active, walking four to six miles a day on the track, reading lots of books, working at the law library and entertaining myself with NYT crossword puzzles.
Only the prison staff on the Texas military base had other plans. They didn't want to let me go home. They actually argued for the right to detain me indefinitely, and forcibly drug me until I could be cured of claiming that I had ever worked as a U.S. asset.
I was released after 11 months. Judge Mukasey retired on the day of my release. I want to be clear that the man is my hero. Though I was detained, he issued a lengthy and well considered decision that blocked the Prosecution from forcibly drugging me. It's a decision that deserves to be considered in other cases in the future. I am profoundly grateful to Judge Mukasey. He has a great and formidable legal mind.
To this day, I am still pre-trial. I have never been convicted of a crime, nor accepted a guilty plea. All of my most fundamental rights under the precious Constitution of the United States have been revoked because a crooked psychiatrist made up a bullshit story & lied to a federal judge.
Collins: What did you do to get things moving with the court?
In August, 2007, I refused to go back to the Court-ordered meetings. Judge Loretta Preska is now hearing the case. In August I stopped attending the meetings, and told the Court that it's time to drop the charges or go to trial. If the Prosecutor wants to pretend that I'm delusional, I would gladly call witnesses for a pre-trial hearing on competency, at the earliest possible date, to smash his arguments all to hell.
In September, October and November, the Prosecutor desperately tried to get my bail revoked and get me sent back to Carswell. That motivated friends to cough up the legal fees for my new attorney. Everybody was terrified that he might prevail and the Court might actually send me back to Carswell.
I refused to let them intimidate me into backing down.
My mother would be proud if she was still alive.
Collins: What will you try to prove in court on June 17, 2008 and where do you go from there?
I am confident that my witnesses will establish that I most definitely worked as long-time asset supervised by individuals in U.S. intelligence. At that point, I hope the Justice Department would seize the opportunity to end the case before we have to go into the specifics of my work. It would be hugely embarrassing for politicians in Washington, if a trial exposes how badly the politicians have mismanaged opportunities to engage the U.S. in counter-terrorism. They are not the innocent of bystanders of intelligence failures that they pretend to be. They made serious mistakes in leadership that they have refused to acknowledge. Assets like me are just the scapegoats for bad policy decisions.
This article may be reproduced in part or in whole with attribution of authorship and a link to this article.
A former psychiatrist who confided to a patient that he wanted to kill six people, and asked the patient to help him find a handgun, has settled a medical malpractice lawsuit with the man.
Richard Karpf agreed to pay $365,000 to Dennis White, a former patient who called police in January 2003 telling them of Karpf's intentions. The settlement came Monday, while a Nassau County jury was in its second day of deliberations in the civil lawsuit.
Karpf was arrested after purchasing a pistol and silencer from someone who turned out to be an undercover officer. He pleaded guilty in 2004 to illegal weapon possession and was sentenced to three months in jail. He remains on probation through next year.
Attorneys for both sides said they were satisfied with the settlement.
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
While looking through the main telescope of the Winkenblinken Public Observatory last month, prominent psychiatrist A. Gorden Crumgranit discovered a previously unknown planet revolving around a nearby star. Astronomers have confirmed that the planet, tentatively named "Pfizer-Glaxo", had never been charted before. They say Dr. Crumgranit was looking through the telescope at just the right moment to see starlight reflecting off of it.
Since that time, more powerful telescopes at better known observatories have been aimed at the planet, and they have found that it seems to have a very unusual and irregular orbit. Most astronomers interviewed about the planet have said they believe that it's erratic orbit is probably a sign of another, yet undiscovered, nearby star or large planet exerting a countervailing gravitational pull on it.
Dr. Crumgranit, however, says he believes the eccentricity is a sign of a chemical imbalance deep beneath the planet's surface. He said he thought the planet may have a deficiency of lithium in the elements that make up it's core, or perhaps too much iron, or some wrongly located serotonin. "Whatever it is," he said, "it is definitely something inside the planet that is causing this anomalie. Planets just don't behave this way unless there's something wrong with them."
When reporters inquired about the source of the proposed name, Winkenblinken Director Matt Grunion said it was Dr. Crumgranit's suggestion. Apparently he wanted to name the planet after the employers of the drug company representatives who had been buying him expensive dinners at posh area restaurants every day that week. So far there have been no objections, and revised astronomical charts are expected to show planet Pfizer-Glaxo on them in the near future.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
It's for the Kids: Three major advocates of antidepressant use in children got millions of dollars from drug makers.
Three prominent advocates of antidepressant use by children received millions of dollars from antidepressant manufacturers, casting into question the integrity of their already-controversial research.As one columnist has noted
The New York Times reported Saturday that Harvard University psychiatrists Joseph Biederman and Timothy Wilens received $1.6 million each from drug companies between 2000 and 2007. Thomas Spencer, another Harvard psychiatrist, received $1 million.
The payments were uncovered by Congressional investigators searching for conflict-of-interest violations. Federal law requires researchers who receive National Institutes of Health funding to report annual outside earnings above $10,000 to their universities. Biederman, Wilens and Spencer all took NIH money, but never reported the full extent of their drug company income.
That the researchers' results were influenced by the payments isn't clear, but the situation is ugly. Biederman has a very high profile; as the Times describes, heis one of the most influential researchers in child psychiatry and is widely admired for focusing the field’s attention on its most troubled young patients. Although many of his studies are small and often financed by drug makers, his work helped to fuel a controversial 40-fold increase from 1994 to 2003 in the diagnosis of pediatric bipolar disorder ... and a rapid rise in the use of antipsychotic medicines in children.Childhood antidepressant use is hotly debated by scientists: it's not clear whether they work as well in kids as in adults, and the drugs may have profound effects on still-developing brains.
Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), leader of the Congressional investigation, has pushed for a national registry of commercial payments to researchers.
Drug companies make drugs Drug companies want to sell those drugs to the largest market possible Doctors make research Doctors make research that shows drugs are beneficial for use in children Drug companies profit Doctors profit
The family of a woman killed by her psychiatrist husband in 1987 is disgusted he was later able to be reregistered to practise.Of course, there's been a small uproar over this discovery. We also have this extended report
Dr George Sliwinski shot his former wife Alice in 1987 and was sentenced to eight years' jail after pleading guilty to manslaughter on grounds of diminished responsibility.
Dr Sliwinski had been struggling with alcoholism and the use of prescription drugs, which during the 80s had led to a number of breakdowns and admissions to psychiatric hospitals.
After being released on parole in 1990, in 1994 Dr Sliwinski successfully appealed to the Medical Tribunal of NSW to be reregistered.
Since 1996 he has been employed as a psychiatric registrar at Gosford and Wyong hospitals.
The Australian Medical Association opposed his reappointment, Fairfax has reported.
News that Dr Sliwinski was again practising has alarmed his late wife's family, with the victim's sister, Noleen Tasoulis, saying it was "disgusting".
But Dr Sliwinski has been defended by his colleagues and NSW Health.
A spokeswoman for the Northern Sydney Central Coast Area Health Service said there had been no formal complaints about his work.
"All appropriate background checks required at the time of his employment were conducted," she said.
Senior psychiatrist Chris Tennant defended his colleague, saying Dr Sliwinski "met all the conditions imposed on him by the board".
Many of Dr Sliwinski's current patients do not know of his past, as he is under no obligation to tell them, Fairfax says.
NINE years after he shot and killed his wife, George Sliwinski was back in his job as a psychiatrist, treating mentally ill patients in public hospitals.
Dr Sliwinski himself had a history of mental illness. This led him to either leave or be dismissed from four medical facilities in the 1980s. In 1987, after a decade of chronic drug and alcohol abuse, he shot his former wife, Alice, four times, a month after their divorce. One of the shots, to her head, killed her.
But Dr Sliwinski was released on parole in 1990. And he was employed as a resident medical officer at the Central Coast Mental Health Service in July 1994, shortly after successfully appealing to the Medical Tribunal of NSW to be re-registered. The Australian Medical Association publicly opposed the re-registration.
Dr Sliwinski was employed as a psychiatric registrar at Gosford and Wyong hospitals in 1996, and continues in this role.
But, to this day, many of his patients are unaware of his past - and there is no obligation for DrSliwinski or authorities to tell them.
The case of Dr Sliwinski raises difficult issues of a patient's right to know the record and background of their doctor and the ability of someone to redeem themselves and begin a new life.
In 1994 the Medical Tribunal said it had "some difficulty" deciding whether he was fit to be a doctor. But it concluded he was suitable because he did not intend to kill his wife, had no history of violence and was supported strongly by three psychiatrists who gave evidence that he had been fully rehabilitated and was very unlikely to relapse.
And yet questions remain unanswered. The Health Department will not reveal how it monitored Dr Sliwinski to ensure he met strict conditions imposed by the tribunal, such as regular urine and/or blood tests, psychiatric treatment and constant supervision. The tribunal also appeared to be unaware that Dr Sliwinski's wifealleged he had a history of violence against her. It found the killing was an "isolated occasion", despite her allegations, set out in an Apprehended Violence Order summons issued in the year before her death.
The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists - which is responsible for ensuring the suitability of psychiatrists - has refused to comment on what processes it undertook to assess him. And in the 1990s the NSW Medical Board was not required to independently notify employers of a doctor's restrictions. A spokeswoman for the board, Edwina Light, said it was prohibited from revealing why DrSliwinski's strict conditions were lifted in 1999.
Doctors are not legally obliged to tell patients they are working under conditions or have been deregistered in the past, and the Health Department has no policy requiring disclosure.
Dr Sliwinski went on trial in the Supreme Court for the murder of Alice on October 1, 1987, a month after they divorced.
He pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the fourth day of his trial, in 1988, and was sentenced to a maximum of eight years' jail.
He had shot Alice four times but said he could not recall the incident and successfully argued diminished responsibility because of his intoxicated state.
In sentencing him, Justice Ray Loveday said there was no motive for the killing and described it as "quite bizarre".
According to the tribunal's 1994 judgment, he had been abusing alcohol and a cocktail of prescription drugs, mostly tranquillisers, for almost a decade and had sought psychiatric help several times from 1979, including stays at psychiatric hospitals in 1985 and 1987. He feared "dying and going mad".
His drinking dated back to the late 1960s, when he drank on the job as a medical trainee because he found attending cancer wards difficult.
His father died of bone cancer when Dr Sliwinski was 11 and his mother had schizophrenia.
The drug addiction began in 1977 after his first wife, Barbara, left him with their children and a doctor gave him Serepax after he was unable to administer anaesthesia due to a panic attack at Moree Hospital.
However, in its judgment in 1994 the tribunal concluded that Dr Sliwinski was not an intrinsically violent person. "[The shooting] does not indicate a tendency to vice or violence or any lack of probity. It has neither connection with nor significance for any professional function. There is no evidence that the appellant [previously] committed acts of violence towards his ex-wife or any other person …" the tribunal said.
However, a summons was issued to Dr Sliwinski over an allegation that he assaulted her by attempting to choke her in August 1986.
The AVO application, seen by the Herald, alleged that Dr Sliwinski, who had been drinking heavily, said to his wife, "If I hear you have done anything to foul up my career I will kill you", and had assaulted her three or four times during their five-year marriage. The AVO was withdrawn by his wife.
Three years before the killing, he was twice told to take sick leave from his job as a psychiatric registrar at Morriset Hospital due to his depressed mental state and concerns that he was suicidal.
He was also told to take sick leave from the Mater Hospital in Newcastle not long after that.
In 1987 he was sacked from a practice at Kilburn Bay and told to seek psychiatric help. He had come to the North Coast after he left Moree Hospital in 1980 after "difficulties with the Medical Board, [and] with the Hospital Board", and moved to Newcastle, the tribunal said.
He had been investigated by the Medical Board for failing to attend to an unconscious patient at Moree who had had a stroke, and was cautioned over the incident.
A spokeswoman for the Northern Sydney Central Coast Area Health Service, Jenny Dennis, said: "All appropriate background checks required at the time of his employment were conducted." She later confirmed "this included the NSW Medical Board".
"Central Coast Mental Health Service can confirm that Dr Sliwinski complied with the restrictions placed on him by the Medical Board," she said. She said there had been "no formal complaints about his work".
Ms Light, said it was the responsibility of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists to determine whether Dr Sliwinski was fit for psychiatry. The college would not comment.
The board's registrar, Andrew Dix, said it regularly monitored conditions. "It's up to the doctor to comply but if they don't comply we know about it very quickly because we've got a data base following this," Dr Dix said.
Alice's sister, Noleen Tasoulis, said the family was devastated that Dr Sliwinski was practising psychiatry. "I think it's disgusting," Mrs Tasoulis said.
She alleged that at the time of his marriage to her sister he was a "violent" alcoholic and her sister supported him with $335,000 she won in a lottery just before they married. "The seven years that he was married to my sister … he was in various [psychiatric] clinics … so it seems rather unbelievable that he could even practise."
Dr Sliwinski had a solicitor, Denis Williams, contact the Herald to arrange an interview yesterday to respond to questions about his past and what monitoring he was subjected to by the area health service.
Dr Sliwinski did not show up but a senior psychiatrist, Chris Tennant, who is a visiting medical officer at Gosford and Wyong hospitals, did, and strongly defended him.
Professor Tennant said "he met all the conditions imposed on him by the board".
He said whether he told the tribunal he was considering a career in psychiatry was irrelevant. "It's not their business," he said.
He declared the Herald "mother f---ers" after the meeting.
Mr Williams said Dr Sliwinski's suitability had been "extensively considered" by the college and the tribunal. "There's been no record anywhere of this bloke not doing the right thing since the day he was readmitted," he said.
Asked whether Dr Sliwinski divulged to the tribunal that there had been other allegations of assaulting his wife, Mr Williams said: "It's too long ago."
Asked about the alleged threat Dr Sliwinski made to his wife that he would kill her, Mr Williams said: "I think we'll end this now. Goodbye."
Monday, June 09, 2008
The Scientific American Podcast has this typically
“You need to talk about your feelings.” “Do you want to talk about it?” “We need to talk.” Whether it’s the aftermath of a failed relationship or the horrors of a school shooting, Americans do like to talk about things. Talking, we feel, is healthy. Talking will help us heal.
But a study from the University of Buffalo suggests that talking’s not the panacea we seem to think it is. Psychologists there have found that people who don’t discuss their feelings after a tragedy actually fare better than those who do.
The researchers were studying the mental and physical toll of grappling with a community-wide trauma—in this case, 9/11. Shortly after the attacks, they offered participants an opportunity to share their thoughts. Some did, some didn’t.
Two years later, the scientists found that people who kept it inside were better off than those who let it all hang out. The findings appear in the June issue of the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. So maybe we should give the grief counselors a vacation. Turn on some music. Maybe talk a walk. Feel our feelings. But not feel like we have to share them with everyone else.
Saturday, June 07, 2008
A report from The Desert Sun of Palm Springs, California
The California Medical Board has revoked a Coachella Valley psychiatrist's medical license, alleging gross negligence, prescribing drugs to addicts, lying to the board, failing to keep accurate medical records and having sexual relations with a former patient.
Richard Duboe Seigle, who was employed part-time by the county of Riverside from October 2002 to February 2007 and has had practices in Carlsbad and Monterey, can petition in three years for reinstatement, according to the medical board. His license, issued in 1981, was revoked May 30.
When contacted Friday, Seigle declined to comment.
An expert called to testify in May told the board that Seigle's care of one patient "was not the worst example of patient care she had ever seen provided by a psychiatrist, but it was close," according to a 49-page California Medical Board document outlining the case.
Also according to that document, a female patient he began treating in April 2000 had a diagnosis of borderline personality, depression, and possible attention deficit disorder, and said she was taking Thorazine, Klonopin, Prozac and Seroquel as well as several other medications.
Seigle prescribed her Adderall, Ritalin, Depakote, Klonopin, Prozac, Xanax, Effexor XR and Thorazine.
In November 2000, Seigle started her on lithium , but did not get blood and other tests.
"In July 2001, Dr. Seigle noted (the patient) was having difficulty speaking and that her speech was slurred. Dr. Seigle was unfamiliar with the signs and symptoms of Lithium toxicity and despite the clear signs indicating possible Lithium toxicity, Dr. Seigle did not order a blood test to determine (the patient's) Lithium level. At the time, (the patient) was taking somewhere between 1,200 and 1,500 mg," the medical board document stated.
When blood tests were ordered by another physician, it became clear her lithium level was 2.2, well into the toxic range.
"Upon learning of the patient's elevated lithium level, Dr. Seigle did not order a further workup; instead he directed that (the patient) discontinue taking lithium for 24 hours and then resume lithium at a dose of 600 mg daily."
The patient stopped seeing Seigle, but the two continued to exchange e-mails. In January 2006, Seigle messaged her that he had been reported to the medical board by a patient who had been on pain medications.
"If you filed with the board, I would not be able to work with poor people anymore. If I lose my license, I would no longer be able to prescribe medications. I see about 15 people a day three times a week. That is a lot of people to help. They feel like you did at one time, that I was the best psychiatrist they have ever seen."
The Desert Sun contacted several psychiatrists outside the case for their take on this incident.
Dr. Donna Mehrejany, who specializes in adult, child and adolescent psychiatry in La Jolla, said: "I don't ever start more than one medication at a time."
As for the lithium: "It's standard practice to obtain lab work when you prescribe a drug like lithium," said Dr. Andrew Elliott, of Palm Springs.
Seigle is also alleged to have had a sexual relationship with a former female patient who had a history of alcoholism, depression, bipolar mood shifts, suicide attempts and obsessive-compulsive disorder. She was his patient from 1998 to 2002.
In 2004, the two stayed at a bed and breakfast in Idyllwild, attended a tennis match, and visited valley casinos. Seigle also invited her to a beach house in Rosarito, Mexico, where he ordered margaritas, knowing she was a recovering alcoholic.
A psychiatrist who testified about the ethical issues said the relationship "involved several extreme departures from the standards of care incumbent upon a psychiatrist."
Friday, June 06, 2008
Quoted because of the observations on the psych abuse, but also because of the insights on political correctness As seen on Los Cuatro Ojos
Scenario #1:Johnny and Mark get into a fistfight after school.Scenario #2:
1957 - Crowd gathers. Mark wins. Johnny and Mark shake hands and end up buddies.
2007 - Police called, SWAT team arrives, arrests Johnny and Mark… Charge them with assault, both expelled even though Johnny started it.Jeffrey won’t be still in class, disrupts other students.Scenario #3:
1957 - Jeffrey sent to office and given a good paddling by the Principal… Returns to class, sits still and does not disrupt class again.
2007 - Jeffrey given huge doses of Ritalin… Becomes a zombie. Tested for ADHD. School gets extra money from state because Jeffrey has a disability.Billy breaks a window in his neighbor’s car and his Dad gives him a whipping with his belt.Scenario #4:
1957 - Billy is more careful next time, grows up normal, goes to college, and becomes a successful businessman.
2007 - Billy’s dad is arrested for child abuse… Billy removed to foster care and joins a gang… State psychologist tells Billy’s sister that she remembers being abused herself and their dad goes to prison… Billy’s Mom has affair with psychologist.Mark gets a headache and takes some aspirin to school.Scenario #5:
1957 - Mark shares aspirin with Principal out on the smoking dock.
2007 - Police called, Mark expelled from school for drug violations… Car searched for drugs and weapons.Pedro fails high school English.Scenario #6:
1957 - Pedro goes to summer school, passes English, goes to college.
2007 - Pedro’s cause is taken up by state. Newspaper articles appear nationally explaining that teaching English as a requirement for graduation is racist. ACLU files class action lawsuit against state school system and Pedro’s English teacher… English banned from core curriculum… Pedro given diploma anyway… but ends up mowing lawns for a living because he cannot speak English.Johnny takes apart leftover firecrackers from 4th of July, puts them in a model airplane paint bottle, blows up a red ant bed.Scenario #7:
1957 - Ants die.
2007 - ATF, Homeland Security, FBI called. Johnny charged with domestic terrorism, FBI investigates parents, siblings removed from home… computers confiscated. Johnny’s Dad goes on a terror watch list and is never allowed to fly again.Johnny falls while running during recess and scrapes his knee. He is found crying by his teacher, Mary… Mary hugs him to comfort him.
1957 - In a short time, Johnny feels better and goes on playing.
2007 - Mary is accused of being a sexual predator and loses her job. She faces 3 years in State Prison… Johnny undergoes 5 years of therapy.
The Last Psychiatrist weblog has a decent article on what's wrong with research in psychiatry. Here are some choice bits, with more at the link:
Apart from the high fives, bravado, and binge alcoholism.A damning, valuable article
Dynastic:There are no independent psychiatric researchers. Young academics are mentored by older academics; this isn't optional, for either person. In virtually no circumstance do they study something entirely of their own choosing, it is either an outgrowth of the mentors' research, or is the mentors' research.Groupthink:Academic psychiatrists are nearly all on the same page, and refer to one another as if they have a relationship, even when they've never met. ("Chuck Nemeroff is doing some good work on...") It's pointless to list the other characteristics of groupthink here, except to highlight one:Outcomes Research Is Purposefully Avoided, or Ignored:the purpose of groupthink is not to promote an ideology, but self-preservation, and this is unconscious. They don't realize that their lives are devoted to preserving the group, yet young researchers are brought on who connect with the group; peer reviewers-- and journal editors-- come from the group; grant reviewers, and NIMH people themselves came from, and support the group.An example of groupthink preservation is the referencing of studies. Academics support their propositions with previous studies; however, no one checks the accuracy of these studies. No one has the time, and the group necessarily must trust the work of others in the group. Even if an error were to be found, it would be described as an isolated error. A cursory stroll through this site alone suggests just how "isolated" such errors really are.You might think in a field with nothing but outcome studies (e.g. Prozac vs. placebo) I might not be able to make this claim, but I do.
Most studies are short term. The few long term studies that exist (e.g. Depakote for maintenance) are either equivocal (e.g. Depakote for maintenance) or show no efficacy (e.g. Depakote for maintenance.) And they are ignored.
But these outcomes are distractions. The question isn't is Depakote good for maintenance bipolar. The question is, is there any value to the diagnosis of bipolar? In other words, if you called it anxiety, or personality disorder, or anything else, and then treated them ad lib, would the outcome be different? Is there value to the DSM?
You might argue the diagnosis leads us to the treatment, but in most cases, meds are used across all diagnoses, and more often than not a diagnosis is created to justify the medication.
Are hospitals valuable? You would think that by now we'd have a clear answer to this, the most expensive of maneuvers. I can say, however, that reducing the length of stay from several months to 5-7 days has not affected the suicide rate. I'm not saying they are or are not valuable, I am saying that I don't know-- and that's the problem.
It is 2008 and there are more studies on restless leg syndrome then there are on hospital vs. placebo. You know why? See above.
As seen in a comment by a reader made earlier on this blog:
Psychiatry residency programs now are happy if they get 55% U.S. medical school graduates, that's an increase over what it has been.We have this news report on shortages of psychiatrists in Minnesota. Seems people are not signing up for the field. of course, we have to supply some snippets from the report as seen in The Daily News (of the Wahpeton, ND - Breckenridge, MN area).
What do you call the U.S. medical school graduate who places last in his class? A psychiatry resident.
A shortage of psychiatrists in Minnesota has caused a strain on current workers and left cities struggling to replace them. Some reasons behind the shortage include low pay in comparison to other jobs in the field and public stigma of the position. In 2004, a Minnesota Public Radio report revealed the state had one psychiatrist for every 10,000 people.Let's see, could there be lower esteem in the eyes of the public? Would all those news stories about shaky and suspect practitioners have anything to do with this? It sounds like you really have to want to be a psychiatrist to become a psychiatrist.
There is little evidence the problem will cease, especially in rural areas. Stefan Gildemeister, assistant director of the health economics bureau at the Minnesota Department of Health, said present calculations for the state are the same.
"A recent study we did, which looked at surveys in greater Minnesota, showed the vacancy rate for psychiatrists was higher than for any other specialty," he said. Breckenridge faces its own significant ratio. A maximum of 136 psychiatric patients walk through the doors of the Hope Unit at St. Francis Healthcare Campus per week, but there is only one psychiatrist to help them. "Many people who attend medical school do not plan on going into psychiatry," said Nancy Torson, MD, at the Hope Unit. "Historically, it has been difficult for programs to fill residency slots, and often they can't fill them."
[...] As psychiatry is one of the lower paying jobs in the field, Torson said "the patient population doesn't appeal to many med students."