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.

From this report from Q13 Fox

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.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

The “Institutional Corruption” of Psychiatry: A Conversation with Authors of Psychiatry Under the Influence

We present at this link an interview with the authors of Psychiatry Under the Influence

Here's a snippet

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?

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.

Worth the read

Saturday, August 08, 2015

VA doctor arrested in Danville for overdose deaths of 3 patients in Indiana

Via this report

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.

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.
Of course, the problem is that these people are trusted to do things the are not capable of doing.

Monday, August 03, 2015

Paul Corona, 'Guru' doctor of mood-stabilizing drugs on probation for second time

From the Orange County Register

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

Riverside psychiatrist pleads not guilty in Medicare scheme

Report from the Houston Chronicle

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.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Notorious Psych Ward at Miami-Dade Jail Finally Shuttered

From this report in the Prison Legal News Website

In a historic culmination to decades of “horrific” living conditions and a pattern of constitutional violations, the Miami-Dade County Jail in Florida has finally closed the “Forgotten Floor” – the notorious ninth floor at the facility that was used to house mentally ill prisoners, often for months and years at a time, with levels of care so abysmal that prisoners routinely died.

“It is thrilling on one level but kind of sad that it has taken so long,” said Miami-Dade Judge Steve Leifman of the December 23, 2014 closure of the jail’s ninth floor. “A lot of people have been hurt or died up there.” Leifman, as chair of the 11th Circuit Mental Health Project, has been a long-time advocate for the mentally ill.

In 2013 alone, three mentally ill prisoners housed on the ninth floor died. On August 26, Joseph Wilner, 59, was found “unresponsive” in his cell; jailed for driving on a suspended license, he was in the unit reserved for the most acute mental cases.

In July 2013, Leifman was informed of the death of wheelchair-bound prisoner Joaquin Cairo. An employee with the jail’s diversion program told the court that Cairo said “someone propositioned him while in custody and when [he] declined they threw him against the bed and against the floor.” Cairo suffered a broken pelvis and died from internal bleeding.

“The neglect was despicable. Despicable,” Leifman said. “He should have been taken to a hospital immediately, and there is absolutely no excuse.”

Three months earlier another psych ward patient, Juan Matos-Flores, who was considered a suicide risk, died after jailers found him unresponsive on the floor of his cell. When staff tried to call 911 they were unable to do so because the phones on the ninth floor were programmed to block outgoing calls. Instead, employees were forced to call another floor to get help.

“It’s a floor that is specifically designed for people who are ill. It’s absurd,” Leifman said after learning of the telephone debacle.

When the ninth floor at the Miami-Dade County Jail closed, some 400 prisoners were transferred to six newly-refurbished wings at the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center, where the telephones allow 911 calls and cameras monitor prisoners in every cell.


The Miami-Dade County Jail, the nation’s eighth-largest, has been under federal monitoring since the U.S. Department of Justice concluded a three-year investigation in 2011 that found a “pattern and practice in constitutional violations” of prisoners’ rights due to deplorable living conditions.

Leifman was more blunt, calling conditions on the Forgotten Floor “horrific.”

“It was not built to be a psychiatric facility. It was built as a jail [with a cell] for one person, and here two and three people [were placed] in there that are very psychotic,” he said.

The public got its first glimpse of the infamous floor in 2006 when Leifman invited a television reporter and camera crew to document conditions as he guided a tour. “Human beings should not be treated like this. No blankets, no beds, no mattresses. We sleep on the floor,” one prisoner told CBS4 chief investigative reporter Michele Gillen, who found the faucets in cells were not working and prisoners were drinking water from the toilets. Leifman credited Gillen’s reporting with stirring public outrage which, in turn, prompted action.

“We have finally closed the ninth floor, thanks to you,” Leifman told Gillen in an interview. “I don’t think the public ever would have understood how horrendous the situation was, but for your reporting. And it led to where we are today.”

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Anchorage Doctor Sentenced to 3 ½ years for Fraudulently Billing Medicaid and Tampering with Physical Evidence

State of Alaska Press Release here

The Alaska Department of Law, Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, announced today that 40-year-old Dr. Shubhranjan Ghosh was sentenced to 3 ½ years of active incarceration. Dr. Ghosh pled guilty to Medical Assistance Fraud and Tampering With Physical Evidence, which he committed between 2010 and 2013 at his practice, Ghosh Psychiatric Services.

Judge Philip Volland also ordered Dr. Ghosh to repay $605,000 in restitution to Medicaid. After release, Dr. Ghosh will be on probation for 10 years, and there will be 3 ½ years jail time that the Court could impose if he violates probation. Dr. Ghosh was remanded to custody at sentencing today. The Medical Board will decide the future of Dr. Ghosh’s medical license.

In court papers, Assistant Attorney General Jonas Walker argued that Dr. Ghosh “is a con artist who happens to hold a medical license.” The State presented evidence at sentencing, including a video showing Dr. Ghosh urging an employee to sign false affidavits stating that medical services were provided when, in fact, they were not.

Judge Volland remarked the community should be “shocked” by Dr. Ghosh’s “unconscionable and unacceptable” crimes of “poaching” money from a program designed to provide medical care to a particularly vulnerable population.

The case was initiated by citizen complaint and jointly investigated by the Alaska Department of Law, Alaska State Troopers, Anchorage Police Department, Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations. Mr. Walker emphasized that this case is a great example of how state and federal collaboration can work to combat fraud and abuse in the Medicaid system.

The Alaska MFCU is part of the Attorney General’s Office. The MFCU is responsible for investigating and prosecuting Medicaid fraud and abuse, neglect or financial exploitations of patients in any facility that accepts Medicaid funds.
The information filed in the Ghosh complaint can be found on the MFCU website.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Timberlawn mental hospital cut off from federal funding over safety issues

From a much long report in the Dallas News

Federal regulators are taking the rare step of kicking one of North Texas’ largest psychiatric hospitals out of the Medicare and Medicaid programs for leaving patients in “immediate jeopardy” of injury or death.


Timberlawn flunked a make-or-break inspection, a final chance to prove it could fix an array of problems after promising improvements for months.

The U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services found that unlicensed personnel were monitoring patients and some patients were going more than 12 hours without seeing a nurse. Electrical cords and other unsafe objects remained in rooms within reach of suicidal patients.

“These practices posed an immediate jeopardy to the health and safety of patients,” inspectors said in a report.

The state said it is moving quickly to evaluate its enforcement options.

“The issues have been egregious and incredibly disheartening. We are absolutely looking at the full range of penalties, including license revocation,” said Carrie Williams, a spokeswoman for the Texas Department of State Health Services. “Our inspectors have been in and out of the facility since February, citing issues and not seeing progress. It’s turned into a critical situation.”
Much more information at the link, which includes hand wringing over what they will do when a dangerous and unsafe facility is shut down.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Poor treatment at Lehigh Valley mental health clinics was evident, patients say

From a longer report in the Lehigh Valley Live website

Photo caption:Lehigh Valley Community Mental Health Centers Inc. at 226 Northampton St., Easton, is seen July 20, 2015. It is one of 10 mental health clinics sued July 20, 2015, by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, along with owner Melissa Chlebowski and Melchor Martinez. Martinez is alleged to have run the Medicare- and Medicaid-funded clinics in Easton, Bethlehem, Allentown, Philadelphia and Raleigh, North Carolina, despite a 2000 ruling excluding him from participating in these and any federally funded health care programs.

Director Allison E. Frantz said the department received complaints about the delivery of care at Lehigh Valley Community Mental Health Centers Inc., now the target of a federal whistleblower lawsuit. The department forwarded the complaints, prompting an investigation, she said.

"The Northampton County DHS has taken steps to ensure the county's citizens' behavioral health treatment would not be jeopardized: the provider network was enhanced to include additional bi-cultural, bilingual treatment professionals and regular and frequent on-site clinical reviews, including additional billing audits," Frantz wrote in an email Tuesday.

After the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania announced the lawsuit Monday, patients were left with myriad questions about the care they had received and whether the five local centers in Easton, Bethlehem and Allentown would remain open.

The suit also targets the centers' owner, Melissa Chlebowski, and her husband, Melchor Martinez, both of Allentown, as well as four sister mental health centers in Philadelphia and one in North Carolina.


The suit alleges the mental health clinics used unqualified stand-ins for psychiatrists and rushed patients through "medication management" visits. Federal prosecutors also say the centers were really run by Martinez, despite being prohibited since 2000 from participating in Medicaid, Medicare or any federally funded health care programs.

The civil action seeks damages and penalties.


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Active Shooters and Psychotropic Drugs

Taken from the much larger article which is a book review of "Active Shooters and Psychotropic Drugs SSRI’s" by Chris Grollnek and Chris Magee. Without quoting the full review, all we really need to is to cite this list of deaths and "the coincidence" of all these shooting associated with psychiatric drugs.

  • Eric Harris age 17 (first on Zoloft then Luvox) and Dylan Klebold aged 18 (Columbine school shooting in Littleton, Colorado), killed 12 students and 1 teacher, and wounded 23 others, before killing themselves. Klebold’s medical records have never been made available to the public.
  • Jeff Weise, age 16, had been prescribed 60 mg/day of Prozac (three times the average starting dose for adults!) when he shot his grandfather, his grandfather’s girlfriend and many fellow students at Red Lake, Minnesota. He then shot himself. 10 dead, 12 wounded.
  • Cory Baadsgaard, age 16, Wahluke (Washington state) High School, was on Paxil (which caused him to have hallucinations) when he took a rifle to his high school and held 23 classmates hostage. He has no memory of the event.
  • Chris Fetters, age 13, killed his favorite aunt while taking Prozac.
  • Christopher Pittman, age 12, murdered both his grandparents while taking Zoloft.
  • Mathew Miller, age 13, hung himself in his bedroom closet after taking Zoloft for 6 days.
  • Kip Kinkel, age 15, (on Prozac and Ritalin) shot his parents while they slept then went to school and opened fire killing 2 classmates and injuring 22 shortly after beginning Prozac treatment.
  • Luke Woodham, age 16 (Prozac) killed his mother and then killed two students, wounding six others.
  • A boy in Pocatello, ID (Zoloft) in 1998 had a Zoloft-induced seizure that caused an armed stand off at his school.
  • Michael Carneal (Ritalin), age 14, opened fire on students at a high school prayer meeting in West Paducah, Kentucky. Three teenagers were killed, five others were wounded..
  • A young man in Huntsville, Alabama (Ritalin) went psychotic chopping up his parents with an ax and also killing one sibling and almost murdering another.
  • Andrew Golden, age 11, (Ritalin) and Mitchell Johnson, aged 14, (Ritalin) shot 15 people, killing four students, one teacher, and wounding 10 others.
  • TJ Solomon, age 15, (Ritalin) high school student in Conyers, Georgia opened fire on and wounded six of his class mates.
  • Rod Mathews, age 14, (Ritalin) beat a classmate to death with a bat.
  • James Wilson, age 19, (various psychiatric drugs) from Breenwood, South Carolina, took a .22 caliber revolver into an elementary school killing two young girls, and wounding seven other children and two teachers.
  • Elizabeth Bush, age 13, (Paxil) was responsible for a school shooting in Pennsylvania
  • Jason Hoffman (Effexor and Celexa) – school shooting in El Cajon, California
  • Jarred Viktor, age 15, (Paxil), after five days on Paxil he stabbed his grandmother 61 times.
  • Chris Shanahan, age 15 (Paxil) in Rigby, ID who out of the blue killed a woman.
  • Jeff Franklin (Prozac and Ritalin), Huntsville, AL, killed his parents as they came home from work using a sledge hammer, hatchet, butcher knife and mechanic’s file, then attacked his younger brothers and sister.
  • Neal Furrow (Prozac) in LA Jewish school shooting reported to have been court-ordered to be on Prozac along with several other medications.
  • Kevin Rider, age 14, was withdrawing from Prozac when he died from a gunshot wound to his head. Initially it was ruled a suicide, but two years later, the investigation into his death was opened as a possible homicide. The prime suspect, also age 14, had been taking Zoloft and other SSRI antidepressants.
  • Alex Kim, age 13, hung himself shortly after his Lexapro prescription had been doubled.
  • Diane Routhier was prescribed Welbutrin for gallstone problems. Six days later, after suffering many adverse effects of the drug, she shot herself.
  • Billy Willkomm, an accomplished wrestler and a University of Florida student, was prescribed Prozac at the age of 17. His family found him dead of suicide – hanging from a tall ladder at the family’s Gulf Shore Boulevard home in July 2002.
  • Kara Jaye Anne Fuller-Otter, age 12, was on Paxil when she hung herself from a hook in her closet. Kara’s parents said “…. the damn doctor wouldn’t take her off it and I asked him to when we went in on the second visit. I told him I thought she was having some sort of reaction to Paxil…”)
  • Gareth Christian, Vancouver, age 18, was on Paxil when he committed suicide in 2002, (Gareth’s father could not accept his son’s death and killed himself.)
  • Julie Woodward, age 17, was on Zoloft when she hung herself in her family’s detached garage.
  • Matthew Miller was 13 when he saw a psychiatrist because he was having difficulty at school. The psychiatrist gave him samples of Zoloft. Seven days later his mother found him dead, hanging by a belt from a laundry hook in his closet.
  • Kurt Danysh, age 18, and on Prozac, killed his father with a shotgun. He is now behind prison bars, and writes letters, trying to warn the world that SSRI drugs can kill.
  • Woody __, age 37, committed suicide while in his 5th week of taking Zoloft. Shortly before his death his physician suggested doubling the dose of the drug. He had seen his physician only for insomnia. He had never been depressed, nor did he have any history of any mental illness symptoms.
  • A boy from Houston, age 10, shot and killed his father after his Prozac dosage was increased.
  • Hammad Memon, age 15, shot and killed a fellow middle school student. He had been diagnosed with ADHD and depression and was taking Zoloft and “other drugs for the conditions.”
  • Matti Saari, a 22-year-old culinary student, shot and killed 9 students and a teacher, and wounded another student, before killing himself. Saari was taking an SSRI and a benzodiazapine.
  • Steven Kazmierczak, age 27, shot and killed five people and wounded 21 others before killing himself in a Northern Illinois University auditorium. According to his girlfriend, he had recently been taking Prozac, Xanax and Ambien. Toxicology results showed that he still had trace amounts of Xanax in his system.
  • Finnish gunman Pekka-Eric Auvinen, age 18, had been taking antidepressants before he killed eight people and wounded a dozen more at Jokela High School – then he committed suicide.
  • Asa Coon from Cleveland, age 14, shot and wounded four before taking his own life. Court records show Coon was on Trazodone.
  • Jon Romano, age 16, on medication for depression, fired a shotgun at a teacher in his New York high school.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Owners of local mental health clinics face fraud charges

As Reported in the Philadelphia Business Journal

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania filed a civil health care fraud lawsuit Monday, under the False Claims Act, against an Allentown husband and wife and their network of mental health centers funded largely by Medicaid and Medicare.

The lawsuit names Melchor Martinez and Melissa Chlebowski, both of Allentown, as defendants and their businesses: Northeast Community Mental Health Centers in Philadelphia; Lehigh Valley Community Mental Health Centers in Allentown, Easton and Bethlehem; and North Carolina Community Mental Health Centers in Raleigh, N.C.

The complaint notes Martinez was convicted of Medicaid fraud in 2000 and, as a result, was excluded from participating in all federally funded health care programs including Medicaid and Medicare. The exclusion prohibited Martinez from owning, managing or receiving payments from any federally funded health care provider.

The lawsuit alleges that in spite of the exclusion, Martinez, assisted by his wife Chlebowski, continued to own and operate the Northeast and Lehigh Valley clinics, and that, in 2009, while his exclusion was ongoing, he started up the North Carolina clinic in Raleigh.

The complaint also says the clinics billed Medicaid for psychiatrist visits “of very brief duration, sometimes as little as two to three minutes, while fraudulently representing that patients were being seen for a 15 minute visit.”

The Northeast and Lehigh Valley clinics allegedly billed Medicaid and Medicare for the services of “therapists” who were not qualified to provide mental health services, and fraudulently billed Medicare for therapy services allegedly provided without the required supervision.

The complaint did not specify the damages being sought by the government.

The matter was investigated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, with assistance from the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General and the North Carolina Department of Justice.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

The Hoffman Report: The Investigation into the American Psychological Association (APA)

The Hoffman Report is the informal name for the 2015 investigation into the American Psychological Association’s (APA) practices regarding its relaxing of ethical standards for psychologists involved in torture interrogations. The full name for the report is, Independent Review Relating to APA Ethics Guidelines, National Security Interrogations, and Torture. It was authored by attorneys David Hoffman, Danielle Carter, Cara Viglucci Lopez, Heather Benzmiller, Ava Guo, Yasir Latifi and Daniel Craig of the law firm, Sidley Austin, LLP.

It was an extensive investigation spanning 6 months that reviewed over 50,000 documents and conducted over 200 interviews with 148 people.

The report notes that,

“Although most individuals were quite cooperative and willing to meet with us, that sentiment was not universal, and there were several individuals who declined to meet with us or did not respond to our requests.”


“This inquiry is made more difficult by the amount of time that has elapsed since the important events occurred. The key events relating to the APA task force report occurred 10 to 11 years ago, and the events relating to the ethics code revision occurred 13 to 19 years ago.”

The independent investigation resulted in a 542-page final report. It is available for download here

Independent Review Relating to APA Ethics Guidelines, National Security Interrogations, and Torture (PDF)

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Another ethics scandal for the University of Minnesota Dept. of Psychiatry

From a Report on Fox 9 News Video available at the link

The University of Minnesota has another ethics scandal on its hands. And once again it involves the Department of Psychiatry. This latest case of research misconduct involves falsifying records.

Dr. Ken Winters is a Psychologist who has worked at the U of M for 26 years. He was about to begin a new study for the National Institute on Drug Abuse on ways to stop teenagers from taking drugs, but before proceeding, a University review board wanted Winters to get something in writing from the federal government.

It would have been a legal document that would protect researchers from having to disclose confidential information about study participants should those participants ever get into trouble with the law. Winters told the Fox 9 Investigators he got tired of waiting for the paperwork to arrive so he falsified his own version and turned it in to the University so the study could begin.

He declined an on camera interview but agreed to have his voice recorded.

"Poor judgement on my part," Winters said. "It was a terrible thing I did, so I have no real explanation. I've got no defense. My own stupidity, poor judgement."

Winters also said within hours of turning in the phony documents, he fessed up after being approached by concerned staff members. His misconduct is yet another slam for the school's Department of Psychiatry.

Earlier this spring, a legislative audit, prompted by a Fox 9 Investigation, found serious ethical concerns and conflicts of interest relating to the death of a research participant in a Psych Department drug trial.

"It is a serious ethical breach. It is another indication that there are issues and problems in the drug trials at the University Department of Psychiatry that need attention," Legislative Auditor Jim Nobles said.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse told the Fox 9 Investigators "it takes allegations of research misconduct seriously." But wouldn't comment on what, if anything, it’s doing about this case.

Winters said he hasn't been disciplined by the University for falsifying the document. Instead, he was given the option to retire at the end of the month.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

An abrupt end for Houston psychiatric hospital Cambridge facility gives up license and discharges its last patient

One of Houston's largest inpatient psychiatric hospitals closed suddenly last week, leaving a void in a city already underserved.

The 148-bed facility at 7601 Fannin had operated as Cambridge Hospital since 2012. On Monday the phone was disconnected and its website contained only the stark message: Cambridge Hospital is closed. Attempts to reach officials at the facility were unsuccessful.

The hospital surrendered its state license on July 7 and discharged its last patient the same day, said Chris Van Deusen, a spokesman for the Texas Department of State Health Services.

Those in Houston's mental health community said the closing was not entirely unexpected.

"I was hearing that this was coming," said Steve Glazier, chief operating officer at Harris County Psychiatric Center, the area's largest facility with 250 beds. He said administrators acknowledged financial struggles to him more than a year ago.


Cambridge Hospital began operating in 2012 in the space that once housed IntraCare Medical Center, once the second-largest inpatient facility in the county.

IntraCare closed after losing its certification from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which had declared it "an immediate and serious threat to patient health and safety."