Donald Lee-Edwards was arrested this week and accused of impersonating a clinical psychologist and medical doctor for three years and potentially providing mental health services to over 100 patients, said the Richmond County District Attorney’s office. He is “a dangerous scam artist who never completed any medical school or doctoral program. He merely bestowed upon himself the professional titles of clinical psychologist and medical doctor,” said Daniel Master Jr., Richmond County district attorney.
According to authorities, Lee-Edwards said he worked “extensively with family members and victims of 9/11” and made himself available for home visits. In June, the district attorney’s office was notified of his practice after skeptical patients complained of his unorthodox bedside manner and his prescription methods. CNN affiliate WCBS spoke to one of Lee-Edwards’ patients, Kim Broadie, outside his office. Broadie showed them a bottle of anti-depressants he had been prescribed with a different doctor’s name; the district attorney’s office said Lee-Edwards would call in his prescriptions under the identity of a different doctor with a similar sounding name.
Lee-Edwards operated out of a basement apartment below a two-family residence in Staten Island; he lived in the floor above his office with his parents, officials said.
Photographs released by the district attorney’s office show a waiting room with seating area, a kitchenette, a front desk and rooms for treatment. They also show shelves of blood vials and urine samples and medical equipment throughout the apartment.
Lee-Edwards’ letterhead advertised him as a clinical psychologist, Ph.D., M.D. and L.P., and when CNN called Lee’s business and cell phone numbers for comment, his voice mail did the same. Lee-Edwards and his attorney, Matthew Blum, could not be reached for comment. The district attorney’s office said during Lee-Edwards’ time practicing, he saw “approximately 10 parolees through word-of mouth referrals” and he would talk to their parole officers about session attendance. He also prepared progress reports for parolee’s files, officials said.
The district attorney’s office brought a 12-count indictment against Lee-Edwards, including charges of criminal impersonation, identity theft, unauthorized practice of medicine, criminal diversion of prescription medications and prescriptions. Lee-Edwards is due back in court in September and is being held on a $150,000 bond/$75,000 bail.
Saturday, August 15, 2015
New York man charged with impersonating doctor, potentially providing mental health services to over 100 patients over a three year old.
Thursday, August 13, 2015
The “Institutional Corruption” of Psychiatry: A Conversation with Authors of Psychiatry Under the Influence
Bruce Levine: Psychiatry Under the Influence attempts to understand psychiatry’s denial and refusal to accept blame for its failures. So, for example, Ronald Pies, editor-in-chief of Psychiatric Times, refuses to blame psychiatry for the dissemination of the disproven chemical imbalance theory of mental illness (which fueled the dramatic rise of antidepressant use). Pies claims that the chemical imbalance theory “was always a kind of urban legend—never seriously propounded by well-informed psychiatrists,” and he blames Americans’ widespread belief in it on drug companies. You attribute much of psychiatry’s denial and evasion of responsibility to “cognitive dissonance theory”—can you speak about this?Worth the read
Robert Whitaker: Again, this is part of the “institutional corruption” lens we were using to study the institution of psychiatry and its behavior. The assumption is that individuals within the institution can’t see that their behavior has been corrupted by “economies of influence.” And so, when those outside the institution begin pointing out the corruption in it, those within it may construct a narrative that protects their self-image. In this case, psychiatrists need to protect their image as honest researchers and as physicians who put the interests of their patients first. Cognitive dissonance theory reveals that there are a myriad of ways that people protect themselves in this manner.
We can see that cognitive dissonance quite clearly in Ronald Pies’ claim that the “chemical imbalance” theory was always a kind of urban legend. The fact that psychiatrists, for a long period of time, regularly told patients that the drugs fix chemical imbalances in the brain represented a fundamental betrayal of those patients. So once the chemical imbalance story fell apart publicly, what does Pies do? Does he admit, even in his own mind, that psychiatrists told this false story to patients for decades? No, he says well-informed psychiatrists never said it, and places the blame on the pharmaceutical companies for telling that false story. Pies makes this argument even though it is easy to document that the leaders of the APA often told this chemical imbalance story to the public, and that, even today, many prominent psychiatrists serve on advisory boards of patient advocacy groups that continue to tell it to the public.
Lisa Cosgrove: One of my favorite quotes is by Carol Tavris: “Mistakes were made, but not by me.” None of us are immune to cognitive dissonance. It is part of the human condition to have implicit biases and remain blissfully ignorant of them.
Saturday, August 08, 2015
A VA doctor was arrested in Danville Thursday morning for reckless homicide charges filed by prosecutors in Indiana.
The criminal counts announced Friday by the Marion County prosecutor's office charge that Dr. John Sturman overprescribed narcotics for pain that resulted in the deaths. The patients died in 2010 and 2011, but aren't identified in court records.
Danville police confirmed today that Sturman was a doctor at the Veterans Affairs Illiana Health Care System and was arrested on the warrant at the VA. According to U.S. News and World Report, Sturman was a neurologist in Danville at the Veterans Affairs Illiana Health Care System. He has been in practice for 44 years.
The prosecutor's office says Sturman was jailed in Danville, Illinois, pending extradition to Indianapolis. It wasn't immediately clear whether Sturman has an attorney.
The prosecutor's office says Sturman operated a clinic at Indiana University Hospital in Indianapolis, but lost his admitting privileges in 2012 after he failed to complete medical charting and documentation of patient visits.
Sturman also faces 16 counts of improperly prescribing drugs.
Wednesday, August 05, 2015
My son died in a mental health facility. If we keep protecting dangerous hospitals, he won’t be the last.
From the Washington Post. Full article at the link
On Nov. 23, I received the call no parent wants to get – my only son was dead. My beautiful, 24-year-old boy was gone. It is a nightmare I have yet to wake up from; one I will never wake up from.Of course, the problem is that these people are trusted to do things the are not capable of doing.
I could barely hear the words from the other end of the line; my cries were drowning them out. I was driving when I received the call, and had to pull over to call my son’s father. Then I had to drive home to deliver the news to my daughter, Paris. How I made it home without getting in a wreck is a mystery to me.
Two-and-a-half months prior, my ex-husband, Kristoff St. John, and I had placed our son, Julian, at Telecare’s La Casa Mental Health Rehabilitation Center in Long Beach, Calif. on a 72-hour involuntary psychiatric hold. Julian had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia when he was 17 and had become suicidal while off his medication and on a powerful substance – meth. The staff upgraded him to a 14-day hold, and then lengthened it again for an indefinite period, to give him adequate time to get off of meth.
Like many parents of children with mental health issues, our goal was to find help for our son who suffers from a horrific illness for which there is no cure. We knew that, with proper medication and therapy, Julian had a chance of living a comfortable life. So we sought help from Los Angeles County’s Department of Mental Health, which referred us to Telecare’s facility. The county says it pays Telecare $17 million per year to contract 190 beds at La Casa. We had hoped that the facility would help him withdraw from meth and get back on his meds, and that within the year, Julian would come home – alive.
But we made a fatal mistake placing our son in the care of La Casa, one of many mental health facilities in this country that contracts with state and local governments. Like many before him, Julian didn’t make it out alive.
Monday, August 03, 2015
A doctor who described himself in an Orange County Register investigation as the “guru” of mood-stabilizing drugs has been put on probation for the second time by state medical regulators.
The Medical Board of California put Laguna Niguel physician Paul Corona on a five-year probation Friday for gross negligence in treating five patients and failing to maintain adequate medical records. He was also put on probation in 2009 after suffering a psychotic breakdown.
Corona, who described himself to the Register as the most prolific prescriber of mood-stabilizing drugs anywhere, is prohibited from supervising physician assistants during his probation.
Jodi Barber, whose son, Jarrod, overdosed in 2010 on a mixture of drugs, some prescribed by Corona, said the state was too lenient. “This is ridiculous. Remove his license permanently. How many slaps on the hand is he going to be given?” said Barber of Laguna Niguel. Her son did not appear to be one of the victims in the state complaint.
Corona was the subject of a 2011 investigation by the Register into how doctors overprescribed to teens, fueling a rise in Orange County overdoses. Coroner records show accidental fatal overdoses have risen steadily from 130 in 2003 to 291 in 2013. Corona preached the use of psychotropic drugs to remove the mental traumas that feed drug addiction.
“I am the top prescriber of psychotropic medications around,” Corona said. “Ninety-five percent of my patients are very happy.”
But drug addiction experts questioned Corona’s tactics, saying it didn’t make sense to use drugs to fight drugs. Dr. Harry Haroutunian, physician director at the famed Betty Ford Center in Rancho Mirage, told the Register in 2011 it is especially dangerous to prescribe drugs with sedative qualities when treating addicts in an outpatient setting, where they might score more drugs on the street.
“If he is telling you he is the highest prescriber,” Haroutunian said, “that would be a dubious distinction by my measuring stick.”
Corona first came under the state’s attention after Orange County sheriff’s deputies were sent to his Laguna Niguel home in 2007 to investigate reports of a man having a psychotic breakdown and threatening suicide, according to a medical board accusation.
“Respondent was acting bizarre and was very aggressive, yelling and screaming incoherently. The officers had to taser respondent several times in order to subdue him,” said the report by the medical board. Corona was hospitalized for nearly a month for psychological observation.
It was the same year that he published a book about treating mood disorders, entitled “Healing the Mind and Body.” In a 2008 interview with the medical board, Corona said he suffered an episode of hypomania three years prior. State documents say that he was prescribed Seroquel by his psychiatrist, but he admitted to self-medicating from his sample drugs after his psychiatrist moved away.
“His disorder has impacted his ability to practice safely and led to his hospitalization for a psychotic breakdown,” the state complaint said. He was put under suspension for five years in June 2009.
Under the latest probation, Corona must take courses in prescribing practices, medical record keeping, medical ethics and clinical education. He must also find another physician to monitor him, according to medical board documents.
Sunday, August 02, 2015
A Houston psychiatrist who was indicted separately in the Riverside General Hospital $160 million Medicare billing fraud scheme pleaded not guilty on Friday and intends to stand trial in August.
Dr. Sharon Iglehart is accused of one federal conspiracy count, two health care fraud charges and a pair of allegations that she made false statements to investigators. At a pretrial conference before U.S. District Judge Ewing Werlein, her lawyers - which include high-powered defense attorney Rusty Hardin - said she is ready to face a jury. Iglehart originally was arrested in December 2013, but the allegations have been amended twice since then - growing from nine to 12 pages in the most recent indictment secured from a federal grand jury and filed on July 21. Iglehart pleaded not guilty to the amended five counts and retained her freedom on $50,000 bail.
Former Riverside CEO and president Earnest Gibson III was convicted as the ringleader in three conspiracies involving Medicare billings for Riverside's psychiatric treatment programs from 2005 to 2012 in which patients were ineligible for treatment or were warehoused but did not receive the reported care. The government alleged that $31 million in fraudulent reimbursement requests were paid. His son, former group home owner Earnest Gibson IV was also convicted at trial and sentenced to 20 years.
The elder Gibson received the heaviest punishment so far: 45 years. His second-in-command, Mohammad Khan, received a 40-year sentence. They received some of the nation's longest sentences for health care fraud - particularly, stealing from the Medicare or Medicaid programs, which is one of the top criminal prosecutorial priorities for the U.S. Justice Department.
Through her Iglehart Wellness Center, the psychiatrist allegedly participated in the scheme by submitting claims that falsely indicated she provided intensive outpatient services for severe mental illness through Riverside's treatment program. Iglehart retains an active medical license in Texas. She was reprimanded by the Texas Medical Board in 2009 for "recreating medical records for psychiatric patients significantly later than the time she had provided examination, diagnosis and treatment to the patients," according to the agency's website. Her disciplinary status was cleared in 2011.
Jury selection in Iglehart's case is set for Aug. 31. If convicted, the doctor faces up to 10 years in prison on each count. Regina Askew, who rose from a case worker to become an auditor, will spend 12 years in prison.
In July, Sharonda Holmes, who was involved in paying and receiving kickbacks, was sentenced to 3½ years and Waddie McDuffie became the sixth person to receive prison time in the scam that crippled Riverside. The historic Third Ward institution began as Houston's first hospital for black patients and became one of the state's largest providers of substance abuse and mental health treatment. McDuffie pleaded guilty to delivering kickback money to group home owners in exchange for them sending patients for mental health treatment at the hospital. He received a five-year term of probation and six months of home confinement. Those who have pleaded guilty or were convicted at trial are among the dozen defendants who are jointly responsible for $46 million in restitution.
All of the Riverside cases are being prosecuted by Washington-based lawyers assigned to the Justice Department's criminal fraud division.