Puzzle solved- Medical Board PHP Compliance counsel another rigged gauntlet–outcome predetermined and PHCU assassins for PHP

Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine Attorney Deb Stoller’s “Fraud on the


Stay tuned -Physician Health and Compliance Unit Board (PHCU) counsel Deb Stoller’s Fraud on the Court beyond reprehensible and much more abhorrent then below. The last piece of the puzzle is  in place.  This is a closed system designed to prevent exposure of the corruption and fraud. Tone at the top not only unethical but sociopathic. The system is  rotten to the core.
PHCU Board counsel was Developed as independent unit outside the Board at large and given power to act both as hearing officer and present PHS cases to the Board and recommend Board disposition.  That’s right -the PHCU Holds all the cards and the deck is stacked.

“Fraud on the court” occurs when the judicial machinery itself has been tainted, such as when an attorney, who is an officer of the court, is involved in the perpetration of a fraud or makes material misrepresentations to the court. Fraud upon the court makes void the orders and judgments of that court.
Bulloch v. United States, 763 F.2d 1115, 1121 (10th Cir. 1985 states: “Fraud upon the court is fraud which is directed to the judicial machinery itself and is not fraud between the parties or fraudulent documents, false statements or perjury. … It is where the court or a member is corrupted or influenced or influence is attempted or where the judge has not performed his judicial function — thus where the impartial functions of the court have been directly corrupted.”

It has recently become evident that the Director of the Board of Registration in Medicine’s Physician Health and Compliance Unit, attorney Deb Stoller, has been unethically and unlawfully withholding and concealing documentary evidence that is not only exculpatory to me but reveals that Physician Health Services (PHS) engaged in misconduct and fraud. She has essentially been concealing their crimes.

The “Administrative Record” filed by the Board was absent copious documentation of major importance and all of it was submitted through the care of Ms. Stoller. The missing documents include multiple petitions and supporting documents that are neither irrelevant nor superfluous. Each of these documents contains sufficient indicia of reliability to meet probative value.Concealing material fact, misrepresentation and making false statements to a state administrative agency is unethical. It constitutes abuse of power and fraud.

Fraud on the court occurs where a party tampers with the fair administration of justice by deceiving “the institutions set up to protect and safeguard the public” or otherwise abusing or undermining the integrity of the judicial process. Hazel-Atlas Glass Co. v. Hartford-Empire Co., 322 U.S. 238, 246 (1944).

The United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit skillfully defined the concept of fraud on the court in Aoude, supra at 1118, as follows: “A `fraud on the court’ occurs where it can be demonstrated, clearly and convincingly, that a party has sentiently set in motion some unconscionable scheme calculated to interfere with the judicial system’s ability impartially to adjudicate a matter by improperly influencing the trier or unfairly hampering the presentation of the opposing party’s claim or defense.”

.Stoller is in violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct including Mass.R.Prof.C. 3.4(c). Fairness to Opposing Party and Counsel which states in part: A lawyer shall not: (c) knowingly disobey an obligation under the rules of a tribunal except for an open refusal based on an assertion that no valid obligation exists.

Mass.R.Prof.C Advocate Rule 3.3 Candor Toward The Tribunal reads:

(a)A lawyer shall not knowingly:

(1) make a false statement of fact or law to a tribunal or fail to correct a false statement of material fact or law previously made to the tribunal by the lawyer; (3) offer evidence that the lawyer knows to be false. If a lawyer, the lawyer’s client, or a witness called by the lawyer, has offered material evidence and the lawyer comes to know of its falsity, the lawyer shall take reasonable remedial measures, including, if necessary, disclosure to the tribunal. A lawyer may refuse to offer evidence, other than the testimony of a defendant in a criminal matter, that the lawyer reasonably believes is false; (b) A lawyer who represents a client in an adjudicative proceeding and who knows that a person intends to engage, is engaging or has engaged in criminal or fraudulent conduct related to the proceeding shall take reasonable remedial measures, including, if necessary, disclosure to the tribunal,; (c) The duties stated in paragraphs (a) and (b) continue to the conclusion of the proceeding, and apply even if compliance requires disclosure of information otherwise protected by Rule 1.6.

And under Mass.R.Prof.C. 8.4(c, d, h. It is professional misconduct for a lawyer to: (c) engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation; (d) engage in conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice; (h) engage in any other conduct that adversely reflects on his or her fitness to practice law.

The Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) reviews the Board’s decisions in part for constitutional error, see Mass.Gen.L. ch. 30A, Sec. 14(7), and is permitted to gather evidence “in cases of alleged irregularities in procedure before the agency [when those irregularities are] not shown in the record.” Mass.Gen.L. ch. 30A, Sec. 14(5). The Court may look beyond the record if it appears the agency deliberately or negligently excluded documents that may have been adverse to its decision.

On a writ of certiorari, the court’s review “is confined to the record and is for the purpose of correcting legal error, [and therefore] the inquiry about the presence or absence of genuine issues of material fact, germane to summary judgment procedure, is inappropriate. . . . [The reviewing court] need only inquire whether the commission’s decision was ‘legally tenable and supported by substantial evidence on the record as a whole.”‘ Gloucester v. Civil Serv. Comm’n, 408 Mass. 292 , 297 (1990), quoting Commissioner of Health & Hosps. of Boston v. Civil Serv. Comm’n, 23 Mass. App. Ct. 410 , 411 (1987). See G.L.c. 31, s. 2 (b); Mayor of Revere, supra at 319-322.

Fraud is distinguished from negligence, ignorance, and error by virtue of the fact that it is intentional; involving some level of calculation. Negligence is: “the failure to use such care as a reasonably prudent and careful person would use under similar circumstances.” In a professional context, it is defined as: “conduct which falls below the standard established by law for the protection of others against unreasonable risk of harm… it is characterized chiefly by inadvertence, thoughtlessness, inattention, and the like.”. Fraud, in contrast, is not accidental in nature, nor is it unplanned. Those who commit fraud know what they are doing and are deliberate in their efforts. They are also aware that it is unethical, illegal, or otherwise improper.

Fraudulent intent is established by examining the documentation of decisions and behaviors associated with those under suspicion. As explained in Coenen: “Manipulation of documents and evidence is often indicative of such intent. Innocent parties don’t normally alter documents and conceal or destroy evidence.

As explained in Black’s Law Dictionary, fraud is an intentional distortion of facts and truth for the purposes of inducing another to give up something of value that they possess or to relinquish a legal right that they might otherwise retain. It is additionally defined as a “false presentation of a matter of fact whether by words or by conduct, by false or misleading allegations or by concealment of that which should have been disclosed which deceives and is intended to deceive another.”

I believe it is safe to conclude that the parties here participated in fraud.

The “litigation-packet” did not merely show “chain-of-custody” issues but forensic fraud. Misrepresenting invalid forensic test results as valid is the definition of forensic fraud. Ms. Stoller should have immediately assessed the “clear-weight” of this evidence, entered it into the docket for reconsideration and given me an opportunity to be heard. She did not.

The Federation of State Medical Board Policy specifically requires strict “chain of custody.” She violated the Board’s very own standards and then blocked me from returning to practice by putting barriers in place, refusing to allow independent evaluations and protracting the time –drawing this out in order to cause as much damage as possible to my family and me.
Mr. Bertram alleges PHS has not committed any crimes because the agency has not been charged with any crimes. This is logical fallacy. They have not been charged with any crimes because the very agencies capable of charging them with crimes are ignoring or otherwise overlooking them for various reasons. Furthermore, If I see someone being stabbed in the back I can reasonably conclude it is a crime. Colluding with a laboratory to intentionally misrepresent laboratory data is laboratory fraud and covered under Title 18 of the United States Criminal Code (Wire fraud 18 USC 1343, False Statements 18 USC 1001, Conspiracy 18-USC 371, False Claims 18-USC 287 and Obstruction of Justice 18-USC 1505). I believe all of these are applicable here. In addition Dr. Sanchez violated M.G.L 156 (B) Section 69 by making false statements to a state agency.

PHS has convinced the Board not to “second-guess” their decisions and apparently the Board has convinced state AGOs to not “second-guess” theirs; each presupposing the integrity of the individuals and validity of the decisions of the agencies in question. As a result complaints by doctors of serious crimes and abuse are ignored. Fact and truth do not matter as the agencies blindly support one-another. This removes all aspects of accountability including answerability and justification for one’s actions. It is a flawed system.

In the past the SJC has overturned the Board’s decisions on due process grounds, see, e.g., Morris v. Board of Reg. in Medicine, 405 Mass. 103, 110, 539 N.E.2d 50, 54 (1989) (vacating Board decision because proceedings “denied [the physician] fairness in a due process sense.”).

This interference with the administration of Justice, abuse of authority and denial of constitutional rights warrant the Board Orders be reversed, vacated and corrected. “The touchstone of due process is protection of the individual against arbitrary action of government.” (Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 558 (1974). “[i]n a just society those who govern, as well as those who are governed, must obey the law.” (United States v. Leon, 104 S. Ct. 3430, 3457 (1984) (Stevens, J., dissenting).

The Courts have held that the Massachusetts and Federal Administrative Procedure Acts require both the agency and the court to consider the entire record, including testimony given at the hearing. In Friends of Edgartown Great Pond v. DEP, 446 Mass. 830, 845 (2006), the SJC recognized that the agency must consider the hearing evidence, finding the agency hearing complied with the Administrative Procedure Act requirements because “the record illustrates that over the course of the five-day hearing, the administrative law judge carefully considered all of the relevant evidence.”

The record compiled here illustrates that over the course of four years the Board not only failed to carefully consider any of the relevant evidence but most likely never saw any of it.

Our Constitution mandates that level of legal process due to reflect “respect enforced by law for that feeling of just treatment which has been evolved through centuries of Anglo-American constitutional history and civilization.” Joint Anti-Fascist Refugee Comm. v. McGrath, 341 U.S. 123, 162, 71 S.Ct. 624, 95 L.Ed. 817 (1951) (Frankfurter, J., concurring)

Ms. Stoller violated multiple professional regulations, ethics and the law in an ongoing campaign in which she blocked the administration of justice. By concealing the truth she prevented both exculpatory evidence favorable to my case and detrimental to the opposing party (involving misconduct and crimes from ever coming to light. It is quite clear the full Board never saw these documents. The fact that the latest Board action did not have any of the documents or petitions submitted over the past year is prima facie evidence of Fraud on the Court. Ms. Stoller needs to be held accountable and I am requesting the SJC uses whatever power it has available to make certain this occurs. Ms. Stoller needs to be disciplined for her actions and this discipline needs to be commensurate with her crime. In this case nothing less then disbarment and criminal charges would fit that bill.
In the Matter of Michael L Langan, M.D.

Petitioner
ON PETITION FOR A WRIT OF CERTIORARI (SJC-2015-0267)
TO THE
MASSACHUSETTS
SUPREME JUDICIAL COURT FOR THE COMMONWEALTH
MOTION TO DECIDE THE MATTER ON THE PAPERS DUE TO INTENTIONAL CONCEALMENT OF KEY DOCUMENTS AND “FRAUD ON THE COURT”
The Administrative Record filed by the Board and Assistant Attorney General Bryan Bertram’s oppositional statements suggest that the Director of the Board’s Physician Health and Compliance Unit, Attorney Debra Stoller has been interfering with the administration of justice by suppressing documentation provided as key evidence and the petitionary arguments accompanying them. The amount of missing information is profound and in review of all of the documents including Board Orders and the Board’s oppositional response to my complaint it is evident that the documents were concealed from the full Board. Mr. Bertram’s arguments are based on a very limited record as both exculpatory documents supporting my position and documents indicating misconduct by PHS were intentionally blocked by attorney Deb Stoller in violation of professional regulation consistent with Fraud on the Court. She engaged in misrepresentation, concealment and other misconduct in interference with the administration of justice.
Fraud on the court occurs when the judicial machinery itself has been tainted, such as when an attorney, who is an officer of the court, is involved in the perpetration of a fraud or makes material misrepresentations to the court. Fraud upon the court makes void the orders and judgments of that court. In Bulloch v. United States, 763 F.2d 1115, 1121 (10th Cir. 1985), the court stated “Fraud upon the court is fraud which is directed to the judicial machinery itself and is not fraud between the parties or fraudulent documents, false statements or perjury. … It is where the court or a
member is corrupted or influenced or influence is attempted or where the judge has not performed his judicial function — thus where the impartial functions of the court have been directly corrupted.” Ms. Stoller has in fact violated:
Mass.R.Prof.C. 8.4(c, d, h). Misconduct. It is professional misconduct for a lawyer to: (c) engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation; (d) engage in conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice; (h) engage in any other conduct that adversely reflects on his or her fitness to practice law.
Mass.R.Prof.C. 3.4(c). Fairness to Opposing Party and Counsel. A lawyer shall not: (c) knowingly disobey an obligation under the rules of a tribunal except for an open refusal based on an assertion that no valid obligation exists;
Rules of Professional Conduct Rule 3.4: Fairness to Opposing Party and Counsel
A lawyer shall not:
(a) unlawfully obstruct another party’s access to evidence or unlawfully alter, destroy, or conceal a document or other material having potential evidentiary value. A lawyer shall not counsel or assist another person to do any such act;
(b) falsify evidence, counsel or assist a witness to testify falsely, or offer an inducement to a witness that is prohibited by law;
(c) knowingly disobey an obligation under the rules of a tribunal except for an open refusal based on an assertion that no valid obligation exists;
(d) in pretrial procedure, make a frivolous discovery request or fail to make reasonably diligent effort to comply with a legally proper discovery request by
On March 9, 2015 an Affidavit was filed with this Court (Affidavit of Michael Langan in Support of Motion for Relief Pursuant to Earlier Court Order) because Attorney Deb Stoller refused to schedule a hearing despite this Court’s request that she do so. In this Affidavit I outline the multiple unwarranted and unjustified delays and state “my legitimate concern is that the Board will simply ignore my most recent January 20, 2015 Petition for Re-instatement. My fears are well grounded as the Board has engaged in a persistent pattern of ignoring my every reasonable effort at trying to be re-instated; and the board has abused the administrative law process to accomplish this. It was only after this Affidavit was filed with this Court that Ms. Stoller even put me on the schedule.
It appears my fears were indeed well grounded as they actually did ignore my January 20, 2015 petition. It appears the April 16, 2015 Board Hearing was simply a “sham review” to satisfy this Court’s request.
The Administrative Record compiled for the April 16, 2015 Board Hearing was absent copious relevant documents including the January 20, 2015 Petition on which it was ostensibly based. In fact, the sole petition is close to one year old. Since that time I have submitted five more petitions that are absent. Since that time I have submitted multiple documents and petitions that are not found anywhere in the Board’s record. Although some of the key documents presented to the Board since 2011 are contained therein, there is no index indicating the date they were received and this brings into question when and if these mitigating and even exculpatory documents were ever even considered.
Mr. Bertram’s oppositional statements underscore these violations and bring the abuse of authority and denial of Constitutional rights to a level of outrageousness. Mr. Bertram states “in his most recent petition to the Board to stay the suspension (“January 2015 Petition”), Dr. Langan submitted a report from an independent psychiatric evaluation (favorably opining as to his fitness to practice medicine) satisfying the first condition, but he did not satisfy the Board’s other conditions because he did not propose suitable (or any) monitoring plans with his petition. Instead, Dr. Langan sought to challenge the Board’s findings that he twice previously
violated the LOA even though he never challenged those violations before, and the time to do so has long since passed.” (page 2)
“Dr. Langan had in the past submitted a letter from Dr. Timothy Wilens, dated February 14, 2014, reporting to the Board that to the date of that letter Dr. Langan remained alcohol and substance free. Id at 158. But, that is not evidence that Dr. Langan remained abstinent in the months preceding the January 2015 Petition to the Board.” (page 8)
Mr. Bertram is correct. The February 14, 2014 report from Dr. Wilens does not cover the months preceding the January 2015 Petition to the Board, but the attached letters from Dr. Wilens dated April 24, 2014 and April 3, 2015 certainly do. The January 2015 Petition was heard at an April 16, 2015 Board Hearing and the April 3, 2015 letter from Dr. Wilens states: “I have monitored him (Langan) clinically and over the past year have been ordering and monitoring urine and saliva” toxicology tests and notes he will continue following me. This letter was written 13 days prior to the April 16th Board Hearing but absent from the Administrative Record filed by the Board October 9, 2015. The letter was provided to Board attorney Deb Stoller both by U.S. Postal service and e-mail. Additionally, it was hand delivered with the other supporting documents of my January 2015 Petition to Board attorney Tracy Ottina at the April 16th, 2015 Board Hearing.
The only possible explanation for the absence of this letter from the Administrative Record is that it was intentionally withheld. The fact that Mr. Bertram argues the absence of such documentation was used in the Board’s reasoning process to deny my Petition suggests the Board never saw it.
Due to the limited number of straightforward issues pertaining to my case (i.e. no patient care or other issues that could be used as a pretext)

this rises to the level of a Brady violation. A Brady analysis has three prongs. First, “the evidence at issue must be favorable to the
accused.” Strickler v. Greene, 527 U.S. 263, 281-282, 119 S. Ct. 1936, 144 L. Ed. 2d 286 (1999). Second, it “must have been suppressed by the

state.” Id. at 282, 119 S. Ct. 1936. Third, “prejudice must have

ensued.” The absence of a monitoring plan is the sole issue Mr. Bertram
identifies as being a factor in the Board’s denial of my petition therefore in this context had I provided a monitoring plan my petition would not have been denied. Mr. Bertram goes on to state that I have never challenged the Board’s findings that I violated my Letter of Agreement. The copious documentation I I have provided this court shows I have been challenging these findings since day one and due to the limited number of issues leading to my suspension and the documentary evidence I have provided to Ms. Stoller that is exculpating to me and incriminating for PHS I suspect it was all suppressed.
Ms. Stoller is abusing her position of authority to deny due process and fundamental fairness with the administration of Justice. She is denying Constitutional rights and violating the Rules of Professional Conduct including Mass. R. Prof. C. 3.4(a), (b), (c); 3.3 (a), (b), (c) and 8.4(a), (c), and (d)
Additionally, I have provided evidence that PHS is engaging in crimes making her in violation of Advocate Rule 3.3 Candor Toward The Tribunal which reads:
(a) A lawyer shall not knowingly:
(1) make a false statement of fact or law to a tribunal or fail to correct a false statement of material fact or law previously made to the tribunal by the lawyer;
(3) offer evidence that the lawyer knows to be false. If a lawyer, the lawyer’s client, or a witness called by the lawyer, has offered material evidence and the lawyer comes to know of its falsity, the lawyer shall take reasonable remedial measures, including, if necessary, disclosure to the tribunal. A lawyer may refuse to offer evidence, other than the testimony of a defendant in a criminal matter, that the lawyer reasonably believes is false.
(b) A lawyer who represents a client in an adjudicative proceeding and who knows that a person intends to engage, is engaging or has engaged in criminal or fraudulent conduct related to the proceeding shall take reasonable remedial measures, including, if necessary, disclosure to the
tribunal.
(c) The duties stated in paragraphs (a) and (b) continue to the conclusion of the proceeding, and apply even if compliance requires disclosure of information otherwise protected by Rule 1.6.
In a November 12, 2015 Motion to Enlarge Time to Respond to Petition Mr. Bertram states “… the undersigned Assistant Attorney General discovered that the certified administrative record was potentially incomplete. After conferring with the Board, it was determined that a copy of Dr. Langan’s petition for reconsideration that resulted in the Board order now under review was inadvertently omitted from the record. (The document was also absent from the Board’s internal docket of this proceeding, resulting in the error by the Board’s staff who assembled the record.)
According to the May 7, 2015 Board Order: “The licensee has not submitted any new documentation that contradicts any of the documents cited to above and found in the Board’s February 6, 2013 Order of Suspension. In the absence of such documentation, there is no basis for rescinding the Board’s vote based on this argument.”
In other words, as with Dr. Wilen’s letter, the Board never saw it and the proposition that this was “inadvertent” is implausible.
In addition to Dr. Wilen’s letter, three petitions were filed with the Board of Registration in Medicine in preparation for the April 16, 2015 Board Hearing. These are dated January 20, 2015 and February 20, 2015 and make reference to a September 3, 2014 Petition in which I introduced a recently acquired document from October 4, 2012.
The October 4, 2012 document from United States Drug Testing Labs (USDTL) to Dr. Luis Sanchez reports the invalidity of the confirmatory test from July 2011 and was the result of an investigation by the College of American Pathologists and precedes Dr. Sanchez report to the Board that I was non-compliant by two weeks. It is essentially exculpatory as Sanchez claimed in a written letter to the Board that he had not become cognizant of the invalidity of the test until December 10, 2012 (67-days later) and these contradictory documents in juxtaposition are prima facie evidence of misrepresentation and dishonesty. Sanchez concealed the test revision and reported non-compliance with my monitoring contract to the Board on October 19, 2012, two weeks after he was informed of the tests invalidity.

In fact the Administrative Record submitted by the Board contains just one Petition from May 25, 2014 that was submitted after Dr. Patricia Recupero completed her 87-page report opining I was safe to practice medicine without restriction and documenting the misconduct of PHS . This report as well as other supportive documentation previously provided to the Board from July 2011 to April 2014 the time they were produced was included with the petition (pages 153-180).
The record provides no index of when these documents were received. No timeline exists. They are not acknowledged in the written Board orders and no consideration is given to them in their written opinion. This brings into question whether or not this information was even available at the time of both Board orders. Was this information taken into account at the time it was provided or was it intentionally withheld or discarded at the time?
Due to the profound removal of due process and fundamental fairness as well as the inability of Mr. Bertram to develop an accurate oral argument due to the limited information contained in the official record I respectfully request the Court proceed with judicial review based on the documents.
Respectfully Submitted,
Michael Langan, M.D. December 9, 2015

“New Paradigm” is a business model not a medical model

“I’m only here for a four day evaluation”– T-shirt sold at Talbott Recovery Center

Screen Shot 2016-06-02 at 1.07.06 AM

The  New York Times article below written by Robert Dupont advocates coercion to facilitate addiction treatment.

Inherent in the current chronic brain disease model of addiction is the importance of external control.  The addict has an uncontrollable brain disease and in denial so we must make decisions for him.   Coercion is certainly justifiable in some cases.  Someone deep in the throes of addiction or alcoholism may  indeed require coercion to get the help they need.  Coercion could save their life.

But that is not what we are talking about here. Claiming that the addict has an uncontrollable disease is increasingly being used to to exert control over individuals regardless of whether they need to be treated.  The “I’m only here for a four-day evaluation” T-shirts were sold at Talbott Recovery Center, one of the specialized assessment and treatment centers. It is a joke because most doctors assessed at Talbott end up staying for about four-months not four-days.

 In state physician health Programs (PHPs) the concept of denial is being used to dismiss oppositional opinion and fact and coercion is being used to provide unneeded treatment is  to individuals  who do not even come close to meeting  the diagnostic criteria for substance use disorder.

 An article entitled    “Drug Abuse Among Doctors: Easy, Tempting, and Not Uncommon”is typical of the alarmist propaganda used to promote these programs.

“Physician access to medications through prescriptions, networks of professional contacts, and proximity to hospital and clinic supplies” gives them “rare access to powerful, highly sought-after drugs” says Marvin D. Seppala, chief medical officer at Hazelden. This access “sets them apart” and “not only foment a problem” but”perpetuate it” says Seppala. “Access “becomes an addict’s top priority” and they “will do everything in their power to ensure it continues.” He states:

“They’re often described as the best workers in the hospital,” he says. “They’ll overwork to compensate for other ways in which they may be falling short, and to protect their supply. They’ll sign up for extra call and show up for rounds they don’t have to do.” Physicians are intelligent and skilled at hiding their addictions, he says. Few, no matter how desperate, seek help of their own accord.”

This is pure preposterous nonsense.  The entire purpose of this vignette is to temper the responses of others when the best worker in the hospital is hauled away and coerced into treatment for a non-existent disease. It is to deflect inquiry, skepticism and doubt about the event.

The Federation of State Medical Boards House of Delegates adopted an updated Policy on Physician Impairment at their 2011 annual that approved the concept of “potentially impairing illness” and “relapse without use.”   PHPs can now coerce doctors into treatment for “relapse” to a disease that they never had in the first place. “Relapse without use” is a 12-step concept G. Douglas Talbott defines as “stinkin thinkin.” The Federation of State Medial Boards provided “regulatory sanctification” to an A.A. concept.

A February 2016  “Physician Health News”article written by Dupont  entitled  “An Outsider Looks at PHP Care Management”  is analogous to Willy Wonka writing a paper called “An Outsider Looks at Chocolate Factories.” Dupont notes “many physicians entering into PHP care are angry and feel beleaguered because they do not think they have problems or need treatment.”

The simplistic binary chronic relapsing brain disease model as defined by the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) is the foundation for this model.

They have been given the power to coerce and control physicians, They also force 12-step ideology and force doctors to to accept ideas that are anathema to them.

The concept of denial is used to force people into treatment and justify abuse during treatment.   The chronic recurring model as espoused by 12-step justifies both ongoing drug and alcohol testing and a revolving door of treatment.    They have been given the power to coerce physicians to accept ideas that are anathema to them.

Designating abstinence as the only acceptable treatment outcome is also a necessary component.

Cui bono?  The drug and alcohol assessment, treatment and testing industry to which Dupont has strong ties.

Dupont and former DEA head Peter Bensinger run a corporate drug-testing business. Their employee-assistance company, Bensinger-Dupont is the sixth largest in the nation.

It is important to recognize that this is not a medical model but a business model.  No research, information, logic or anything else is going to change the business plan. PHPs are essentially employee assistance programs (EAPs) for doctors. They are selling an EAP (the PHP-blueprint) and the junk-science non-FDA approved drug and alcohol testing that goes along with it.

In “Six lessons from state physician health programs to promote long-term recovery” Dupont and Dr. Greg Skipper (attribute this success rate to the following factors:8

(1) Zero tolerance for any use of alcohol and other drugs;

(2) Thorough evaluation and patient-focused care;

(3) Prolonged, frequent random testing for both alcohol and other drugs;

(4) Effective use of leverage;

(5) Defining and managing relapses; and

(6) The goal of lifelong recovery rooted in the 12-Step fellowships.

This is a business model plain and simple and all the trumpeting of success and glory is based on a single retrospective poorly designed bullshit study of 16 state PHPs rife with conflicts of interest.  The “PHP blueprint” needs to be attacked.

Reflecting on Lord Acton’s observation that “absolute power corrupts absolutely” the American philosopher Eric Hoffer added that “Those in possession of absolute power can not only prophesy and make their prophecies come true, but they can also lie and make their lies come true.”    The “PHP-Blueprint”  is   being brandished by Dupont as the  “new paradigm” of substance abuse treatment but the majority of doctors being monitored do not meet the criteria for substance use disorder.   This system is not designed to help doctors or protect the public.  It is designed to profit and line the purses of the drug and alcohol assessment, testing and treatment industry.   This needs to be recognized and addressed before the new paradigm expands to other occupations, college students and kids.

 

Drug Addiction Recovery Often Starts With Coercion

Robert L. DuPont

Robert L. DuPont, a psychiatrist, is the president of the Institute for Behavior and Health Inc. He was the director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse from 1973 to 1978.

UPDATED NOVEMBER 12, 2015, 12:52 PM

Addiction hijacks the brain. Families dealing with addicted loved ones know this. Research shows that 95 percent of people suffering from substance use disordersdo not think that they have a problem or need treatment. Few addicts enter treatment without meaningful coercion, most often from families or the criminal justice system.

The challenge in responding to this seemingly simple question about coerced treatment is in the details. Surely not everyone who is addicted to drugs should be committed to treatment. The opposite is also true. Some addicts should be committed to treatment against their will. Not all coercion is commitment and not all commitment has the force of law.

Programs with effective coercion and serious consequences, such as HOPE Probation and Physician Health Programs, often produce excellent outcomes for most participants.

Two good examples of effective coercion that overcome addiction are HOPE Probation and the state-based Physician Health Programs, both of which are enforced by intensive random monitoring and permit no use of alcohol or other drugs. While these two programs share many similar features, they deal with very different populations of serious substance users: one with convicted felons on probation and the other with physicians. Both are voluntary in the sense that individuals can choose to not abide by the program requirements, but in both cases the consequences may be serious. For probationers in HOPE, the risk of failing is prison and for physicians in P.H.P., it is the loss of a medical license. Both programs produce excellent outcomes for most participants.

Families faced with addiction often reluctantly, and only after many failures, use “tough love” to promote treatment and recovery while insisting that their addicted loved ones be drug-free. Families usually have to use a significant measure of coercion not only to get addicts into treatment but also to keep them there and to prevent relapse upon discharge.

As a psychiatrist specializing in the treatment of addiction, I am struck by the stark contrast between addicted people who are using alcohol and other drugs actively and those who are in stable recovery. In the process of recovery there is a transition from near-universal denial of problems and rejection of treatment to gratitude for and acceptance of the coercion that got them on that path. The addict’s will is different when using drugs and when in recovery.

Recovery from addiction may or may not involve treatment. It takes years of hard work – usually with the sustained support of recovery communities. Because of the denial that characterizes the cunning, baffling and powerful disease of addiction, recovery often starts with substantial coercion.

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Physician Suicide and the Elephant in the Room
Michael Langan, M.D.

Although no reliable statistics exist, anecdotal reports suggest an alarming upsurge in physician suicide. This necessitates a reappraisal of known predisposing risk factors such as substance abuse and depression but also requires a critical examination of what external forces or vulnerabilities might be unique to doctors and how they might be involved in the descent from suicidal ideation to suicidal planning to completed suicide.

Depression and Substance Abuse Comparable to General Population

Depression and substance abuse are the two biggest risk factors for suicide. The prevalence of depression in physicians is close to that of the general population1,2 and, if one looks critically at the evidence based literature, substance abuse in medical professionals approximates that of the general population.  Controlled studies using DSM diagnostic criteria suggest that physicians have the same rates (8-14%) of substance abuse and dependence as the rest of the population 3 and slightly lower rates compared to other occupations.4,5 Epidemiological surveys reveal the same. Hughes, et al.6 found a lifetime prevalence of drug or alcohol abuse or dependence in physicians of 7.9%, markedly less than the 14.6% prevalence reported in the general population by Kessler.7

State Physician Health Programs

Perhaps it is how physicians are treated differently when they develop a substance abuse or mental health problem.

Physician Health Programs (PHP) may be considered the equivalent to Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) for other occupations. PHPs meet with, assess and monitor doctors who have been referred to them for substance use or other mental or behavioral health problems. Originally developed as “impaired physician” programs, the PHPs were created to help doctors who developed problems with substance abuse or addiction as an alternative to disciplinary action by State Medical Boards. These programs existed in almost every state by 1980. Often staffed by volunteer physicians and funded by State Medical Societies, “impaired physician” programs served the dual purpose of both helping sick colleagues and protecting the public. Preferring rehabilitation to probation or license revocation (so long as the public was protected from imminent danger)  most medical boards accepted the concept with support and referral.   However, most EAPs were developed with the collaboration of workers unions or some other group supporting the rights and interests of the workers.  Not so with PHPs  as there is no such organization representing doctors.   PHPs developed in the absence of regulation or oversight.    As a consequence there is no meaningful accountability.

In Ethical and Managerial Considerations Regarding State Physician Health Programs published in the Journal of Addiction Medicine in 2012, John Knight, M.D. and J. Wesley Boyd, M.D., PhD who collectively have more than 20 years experience with the Massachusetts PHP state that:

“Because PHP practices are unknown to most physicians before becoming a client of the PHP, many PHPs operate out- side the scrutiny of the medical community at large. Physicians referred to PHPs are often compromised to some degree, have very little power, and are, therefore, not in a position to voice what might be legitimate objections to a PHP’s practices.”8

Noting that “for most physicians, participation in a PHP evaluation is coercive, and once a PHP recommends monitoring, physicians have little choice but to cooperate with any and all recommendations if they wish to continue practicing medicine,” Knight and Boyd raise serious ethical and managerial questions about current PHP policies and practice including conflicts of interest in referrals for evaluation and treatment, lack of adherence to standards of care for forensic testing of substances of abuse, violations of ethical guidelines in PHP research, and conflicts of interest with state licensing boards.

Knight and Boyd recommend “that the broader medical community begin to reassess PHP’s as a whole” and that “consideration be given toward the implementation of independent ethical oversight and establish and appeals process for PHP clients who feel they are being treated unfairly.” 8 They also recommend the relationship of PHP’s between the evaluation and treatment centers and licensing boards be transparent and that national organizations review PHP practices and recommend national standards “that can be debated by all physicians, not just those who work within PHPs.”8 Unfortunately this has not happened. Most physicians have no idea that the state physician health programs have been taken over by the “impaired physicians movement.”

In his Psychology Today blog,  Boyd again recommends oversight and regulation of PHPs.   He cites the North Carolina Physicians Health Program Audit released in April of 2014 that reported the below key findings:

As with Knight and Boyd’s paper outlining the ethical and managerial problems in PHPs, the NC PHP audit finding that abuse could occur and not be detected generated little interest from either the medical community or the media.

Although state PHPs present themselves as confidential caring programs of benevolence they are essentially monitoring programs for physicians who can be referred to them for issues such as being behind on chart notes. If the PHP feels a doctor is in need of PHP “services” they must then abide by any and all demands of the PHP or be reported to their medical board under threat of loss of licensure.

State PHP programs require strict adherence to 12-step doctrine9 yet many of the physicians monitored by them are neither addicts nor alcoholics. Some do not even have substance abuse issues and there are reports of “disruptive” physicians being diagnosed with “character defects” at the “PHP-approved” facilities that do these assessments.   PHPs require abstinence from drugs and alcohol yet use  non-FDA approved Laboratory Developed Tests in their monitoring programs. Many of these tests were introduced to commercial labs and promoted by ASAM/FSPHP physicians.10-12

LDTs bypass the FDA approval process and have no meaningful regulatory oversight.   The LDT pathway was not designed for “forensic” tests but clinical tests with low risk.   Some are arguing for regulation and oversight of LDTs due to questionable validity and risk of patient harm.13

These same physicians are claiming a high success rate for PH programs9 and suggesting that they be used for random testing of all physicians.14

As with LDTs, the state PHPs are unregulated, and without oversight. State medical societies and departments of health have no control over state PHPs.

Their opacity is bolstered by peer-review immunity, HIPPA, HCQIA, and confidentiality agreements. The monitored physician is forced to abide by any and all demands of the PHP no matter how unreasonable-all under the coloration of medical utility and without any evidentiary standard or right to appeal.

The ASAM has a certification process for physicians and claim to be “addiction” specialists. This“board certification” is not recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties and is not a recognized medical specialty. The goal of the ASAM is to be recognized as the experts in addiction medicine with the consensus expert opinion based on the 12-step prohibitionist brain disease model. The ASAM has aligned itself with a number of inpatient drug treatment centers  (Hazelden, Talbott, Marworth, Bradford,etc) and are heavily funded by the drug testing industry.   It is in fact a “rigged game.”

State PHPs are non-profit non-governmental organizations and have been granted quasi-governmental immunity by most State legislatures from legal liability.

By infiltrating “impaired physician” programs they have established themselves in almost every state by joining, gaining power, and removing dissenters. Groupthink and 12-step indoctrination are the goals. By advertising as advocates for doctors who are “caring,” “confidential resources,” “giving help,” and advocating for “colleagues in need” the outward appearance is one of benevolence.

The biggest obstacle is that this system allows them to throw the normal rules of conduct under the imperative of a higher goal assumed to trump all other consideration. Those outside of programs either defend or ignore the reports of ethical and criminal violations, complacent in their trust of these “experts” claiming they are just helping sick doctors and protecting the public.

With no oversight or regulatory body involved this is all done with impunity, immunity, and undercover. They use the accusation of substance abuse as an indication to disregard the claims of the accused. The physician is left without rights, depersonalized, and dehumanized. The imposition of confinement, stigmatization, lack of oversight of the organizations, peer-review protected confidentiality, and lack of procedural protection is a one-way train to hopelessness and despair.

By establishing a system that of coercion, control, secrecy, and misinformation, the FSPHP is claiming an “80% success rate” 15and deeming the “PHP-blueprint” as “the new paradigm in addiction medicine treatment.

The ASAM/FSPHP had a major influence on the DSM-V where drug abuse and dependence are no longer separate entities. They are also working behind the scenes to get legislation to randomly drug test all physicians.

They are now after the “disruptive physician” and the evidentiary criteria are fairly low and red flags include “deviating from workplace norm in dress or conduct” and being tardy for meetings.

They have identified “the aging physician” as a potential problem because “as the population of physicians ages,””cognitive functioning” becomes “a more common threat to the quality of medical care.”

The majority of physicians are unaware that the Federation of State Medical Boards House of Delegates adopted an updated Policy on Physician Impairment in 2011 that uses addiction as an example of a “potentially impairing illness.”  According to the Federation of State Physician Health Programs …”physician illness and impairment exist on a continuum with illness typically predating impairment, often by many years. This is a critically important distinction. Illness is the existence of a disease. Impairment is a functional classification and implies the inability of the person affected by disease to perform specific activities.”

“Process addiction” was added as a potentially impairing illness including compulsive gambling, compulsive spending, compulsive video gaming, and “workaholism.” According to the FSPHP “the presence of a process addiction can be problematic or even impairing in itself, and it can contribute to relapse of a physician in recovery. As such, process addictions should be identified and treated.” They define three levels of relapse including the novel “relapse without use.”

Bullying, Helplessness, Hopelessness and Despair

Perceived helplessness is significantly associated with suicide.16 So too is hopelessness, and the feeling that no matter what you do there is simply no way out17,18 Bullying is known to be a predominant trigger for adolescent suicide19-21 One study found that adolescents in custody who were bullied were 9.22 times more likely to attempt suicide than those were not bullied.22

Heightened perceptions of defeat and entrapment are known to be powerful contributors to suicide.23,24 The “Cry of Pain” model 25,26 specifies that people are particularly prone to suicide when life experiences are interpreted as signaling defeat which is defined as a sense of “failed struggle” or loss of social position and resources.. The person is unable to identify an escape from or resolution to a defeating situation, a sense of entrapment proliferates with the perception of no way out, and this provides the central impetus for ending ones life.

There is also evidence that rescue factors such as social supports may play a role in preventing suicide. These rescue factors act buffers to protect against suicide in the face of varying degrees of life stress.27,28 The study of female physicians revealed meetings to discuss stressful work experiences as a potential protective factor, 29 and support at work when difficulties arose appeared to be a protective factor for the male physicians.30   Research involving Finnish physicians found that control over one’s work and organizational justice were the most important determinants of work-related wellbeing.31,32 Organizational justice is related to fairness and refers to an individuals perception of an organizations behaviors, decisions, and actions and how these influence one’s own attitudes and behaviors and has been identified as a psychosocial predictor of health and wellbeing33 34Low organizational justice has been identified as a notable risk factor for psychological distress and depression.35,36

A recent report indicates that job stress, coupled with inadequate treatment for mental illness may play a role in physician suicide..

Using data from the National Violent Death Reporting System the investigators compared 203 physicians who had committed suicide to more than 31,000 non-physicians and found that having a known mental health disorder or a job problem that contributed to the suicide significantly predicted being a physician.1

Physicians were 3.12 times more likely to have a job problem as a contributing factor. In addition, toxicology testing showed low rates of medication treatment.  The authors concluded that inadequate treatment and increased problems related to job stress are potentially modifiable risk factors to reduce suicidal death among physicians.

They also warned that the database used likely underestimated physician suicides because of “underreporting and even deliberate miscoding because of the stigma attached.”

I can think of nothing more institutionally unjust than an unregulated zero-tolerance monitoring program with no oversight using unregulated drug and alcohol testing of unknown validity.

We have heard of numerous suicides due to these institutionally unjust programs.   Three doctors died by suicide in Oklahoma in a one month period alone (August 2014).   All three were being monitored by the Oklahoma PHP.   I went to an all boys high-school of less than 350 students yet a classmate a couple years ahead of me died by suicide a few months ago. He was being monitored by the Washington PHP. His crime?  A DUI in 2009–a one-off situational mistake that in all likelihood would never have recurred.  But as is often the case with those ensnared by state PHPs he was forced to have a “re-assessment” as his five-year monitoring contract was coming to an end.  These re-assessments are often precipitated by a positive Laboratory Developed Test (LDT) and state medical boards mandate these assessments can only be done at an out-of-state “PHP-approved” facility.    Told he could no longer operate and was unsafe to practice medicine by the PHP and assessment center he then hanged himself.  And at the conclusion of Dr. Pamela Wible’s haunting video below are listed just the known suicides of  doctors; many were being monitored by their state PHPs–including the first name on the list– Dr. Gregory Miday.

None of these deaths were investigated. None were covered in the mainstream media.   These are red flags that need to be acknowledged and addressed!    This anecdotal evidence suggests the oft-used estimate of 400 suicides per year (an entire medical school class) is a vast underestimation of reality—extrapolating just the five deaths above to the entire population of US doctors suggests we are losing at least an entire medical school per year.

As physicians we need to demand transparency, oversight, regulation and auditing by outside groups. This is a public health emergency.

To wit:

They first came after the substance abusers and I did not speak out because I was not a substance abuser.

They then came for those with psychiatric diagnoses and I did not speak out because I was not diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder.

They then came after the “disruptive physician” and I did not speak out because I was not disruptive.

They then came after the aging physician and I did not speak out because I was young.

They then came after me and there was no one else to speak out for me.

Ford DE, Mead LA, Chang PP, Cooper-Patrick L, Wang NY, Klag MJ. Depression is a risk factor for coronary artery disease in men: the precursors study. Archives of internal medicine. Jul 13 1998;158(13):1422-1426.
Frank E, Dingle AD. Self-reported depression and suicide attempts among U.S. women physicians. The American journal of psychiatry. Dec 1999;156(12):1887-1894.
Brewster JM. Prevalence of alcohol and other drug problems among physicians. JAMA : the journal of the American Medical Association. Apr 11 1986;255(14):1913-1920.
Anthony J, Eaton W, Mandell W, al. e. Psychoactive Drug Dependence and abuse: More Common in Some Occupations than in Others? Journal of Employee Assistance Res.1992;1:148-186.
Stinson F, DeBakely S, Steffens R. Prevalence of DSM-III-R Alcohol abuse and/or dependence among selected occupations. Alchohol Health Research World. 1992;16:165-172.
Hughes PH, Brandenburg N, Baldwin DC, Jr., et al. Prevalence of substance use among US physicians. JAMA : the journal of the American Medical Association. May 6 1992;267(17):2333-2339.
Kessler RC, Berglund P, Demler O, Jin R, Merikangas KR, Walters EE. Lifetime prevalence and age-of-onset distributions of DSM-IV disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication.Archives of general psychiatry.Jun 2005;62(6):593-602.
Boyd JW, Knight JR. Ethical and managerial considerations regarding state physician health programs. Journal of addiction medicine. Dec 2012;6(4):243-246.
DuPont RL, McLellan AT, White WL, Merlo LJ, Gold MS. Setting the standard for recovery: Physicians’ Health Programs. Journal of Medical Regulation. Mar 2010;95(4):10-25.
Skipper GE, Weinmann W, Thierauf A, et al. Ethyl glucuronide: a biomarker to identify alcohol use by health professionals recovering from substance use disorders. Alcohol and alcoholism.Sep-Oct 2004;39(5):445-449.
Skipper GE, Thon N, Dupont RL, Baxter L, Wurst FM. Phosphatidylethanol: the potential role in further evaluating low positive urinary ethyl glucuronide and ethyl sulfate results.Alcoholism, clinical and experimental research. Sep 2013;37(9):1582-1586.
Skipper GE, Thon N, DuPont RL, Campbell MD, Weinmann W, Wurst FM. Cellular photo digital breathalyzer for monitoring alcohol use: a pilot study.European addiction research.2014;20(3):137-142.
Sharfstein J. FDA Regulation of Laboratory-Developed Diagnostic Tests: Protect the Public, Advance the Science. JAMA : the journal of the American Medical Association. Jan 5 2015.
Pham JC, Pronovost PJ, Skipper GE. Identification of physician impairment.JAMA : the journal of the American Medical Association. May 22 2013;309(20):2101-2102.
McLellan AT, Skipper GS, Campbell M, DuPont RL. Five year outcomes in a cohort study of physicians treated for substance use disorders in the United States. Bmj. 2008;337:a2038.
Rivers I, Noret N. Potential suicide ideation and its association with observing bullying at school.The Journal of adolescent health : official publication of the Society for Adolescent Medicine. Jul 2013;53(1 Suppl):S32-36.
Lester D, Walker RL. Hopelessness, helplessness, and haplessness as predictors of suicidal ideation. Omega. 2007;55(4):321-324.
Beck AT. Hopelessness as a predictor of eventual suicide. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. 1986;487:90-96.
Hinduja S, Patchin JW. Bullying, cyberbullying, and suicide. Archives of suicide research : official journal of the International Academy for Suicide Research. 2010;14(3):206-221.
Hertz MF, Donato I, Wright J. Bullying and suicide: a public health approach. The Journal of adolescent health : official publication of the Society for Adolescent Medicine. Jul 2013;53(1 Suppl):S1-3.
Kim YS, Leventhal B. Bullying and suicide. A review. International journal of adolescent medicine and health. Apr-Jun 2008;20(2):133-154.
Kiriakidis SP. Bullying and suicide attempts among adolescents kept in custody.Crisis.2008;29(4):216-218.
Taylor PJ, Gooding P, Wood AM, Tarrier N. The role of defeat and entrapment in depression, anxiety, and suicide. Psychological bulletin. May 2011;137(3):391-420.
Lester D. Defeat and entrapment as predictors of depression and suicidal ideation versus hopelessness and helplessness. Psychological reports. Oct 2012;111(2):498-501.
Williams JMG. Cry of Pain. Harmondsworth: Penguin; 1997.
Williams JMG, Crane C, Barnhofer T, Duggan DS. Psychology and suicidal behavior: elaborating the entrapment model. In: Hawton K, ed. Prevention and treatment of suicidal behavior: from science to practice. Oxford: Oxford University Press; 2005:71-89.
Borowsky IW, Ireland M, Resnick MD. Adolescent suicide attempts: Risks and protectors.Pediatrics. 2001;107(485).
Clum GA, Febbraro GAR. Stress, social support and problem-solving appraisal/skill: Prediction of suicide severity within a college sample.Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment. 1994;16:37-46.
Fridner A, Belkic K, Marini M, Minucci D, Pavan L, Schenck-Gustafsson K. Survey on recent suicidal ideation among female university hospital physicians in Sweden and Italy (the HOUPE study): cross-sectional associations with work stressors. Gender medicine. Apr 2009;6(1):314-328.
Fridner A, Belkic K, Minucci D, et al. Work environment and recent suicidal thoughts among male university hospital physicians in Sweden and Italy: the health and organization among university hospital physicians in Europe (HOUPE) study. Gender medicine. Aug 2011;8(4):269-279.
Lindfors PM, Meretoja OA, Toyry SM, Luukkonen RA, Elovainio MJ, Leino TJ. Job satisfaction, work ability and life satisfaction among Finnish anaesthesiologists. Acta anaesthesiologica Scandinavica. Aug 2007;51(7):815-822.
Heponiemi T, Kuusio H, Sinervo T, Elovainio M. Job attitudes and well-being among public vs. private physicians: organizational justice and job control as mediators. European journal of public health. Aug 2011;21(4):520-525.
Elovainio M, Kivimaki M, Vahtera J. Organizational justice: evidence of a new psychosocial predictor of health. Am J Public Health. Jan 2002;92(1):105-108.
Lawson KJ, Noblet AJ, Rodwell JJ. Promoting employee wellbeing: the relevance of work characteristics and organizational justice. Health promotion international. Sep 2009;24(3):223-233.
Hayashi T, Odagiri Y, Ohya Y, Tanaka K, Shimomitsu T. Organizational justice, willingness to work, and psychological distress: results from a private Japanese company. Journal of occupational and environmental medicine / American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. Feb 2011;53(2):174-181.
Lang J, Bliese PD, Lang JW, Adler AB. Work gets unfair for the depressed: cross-lagged relations between organizational justice perceptions and depressive symptoms. The Journal of applied psychology. May 2011;96(3):602-618.

Written by
Michael Langan, M.D.

The plan to expand Physician Health Programs (PHPs) to all professionals

Disrupted Physician

Screen Shot 2015-07-03 at 3.50.56 AM

In 2012 former Nixon Drug Czar Robert Dupont, MD delivered the keynote speech at the Drug and Alcohol Testing Industry Association (DATIA) annual conference and described a “new paradigm” for addiction and substance abuse treatment. He advocated zero tolerance for alcohol and drug use enforced by monitoring with frequent random drug and alcohol tests. Detection of any substances is met with “swift and certain consequences.”

And then he proposed expansion of this paradigm to other populations including workplace, healthcare, and schools.

Robert Dupont was a key figure in launching the “war on drugs” — now widely viewed as the failed policy that has turned the US into the largest jailer in the world.

Screen Shot 2014-02-23 at 8.06.56 PMIn the 1970s, Dupont administered the experimental drug rehab program called “The Seed” – that was later deemed by congress to use methods similar to those used on American POW’s in North Korea. He would later…

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Mandating Drug-Testing of Unknown Validity while removing the procedural safeguards of forensic drug testing: The plan to Introduce Laboratory Developed Tests into Mainstream Healthcare

The logical fallacy here is striking.  It is comparing apples and oranges.  After detailing the specific quality assurance safeguards designed to prevent the donor of a drug or alcohol test from being falsely accused of illicit use, the authors give a general  definition and purpose of  “clinical” testing  then state that when testing for drugs the systems in place are up to snuff as they are already being used to make  “life-and-death medical decisions.”  The take-home message is that “forensic” testing is unnecessary hyperbole designed for legal challenges. The clinical lab  systems in place are used for critically  important testing and can therefore be used for drug-testing–after all, parolees and probationers don’t require it.

Disrupted Physician

Screen Shot 2013-09-04 at 6.14.30 PM

Chain-of-Custody refers to the document or paper trail showing the collection, control, transfer, analysis and disposition of laboratory tests.  It is the written documentation of a specimen from the moment of collection to the final destination to the review and reporting of the final results.   The multi-part chain-of-custody form or “custody and control” form is part and parcel of this process. It contains stickers to sign and seal the specimen so that it cannot be tampered with and the form itself is signed by the appropriate parties as the test specimen travels from place to place. Information is added to the form as it travels from person to person.  It has been given the status of a legal document as it has the ability to invalidate a specimen with incomplete information.  Once the sample is analyzed it is reviewed by a Medical Review Officer (MRO) for final review. In…

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Physician Suicide and “Physician Wellness” –Time to start talking about the elephant in the room!

Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 7.30.05 PM

Physician Suicide and the Elephant in the Room

Michael Langan, M.D.

Although no reliable statistics exist, anecdotal reports suggest an alarming upsurge in physician suicide. This necessitates a reappraisal of known predisposing risk factors such as substance abuse and depression but also requires a critical examination of what external forces or vulnerabilities might be unique to doctors and how they might be involved in the descent from suicidal ideation to suicidal planning to completed suicide.

Depression and Substance Abuse Comparable to General Population

Depression and substance abuse are the two biggest risk factors for suicide. The prevalence of depression in physicians is close to that of the general population1,2 and, if one looks critically at the evidence based literature, substance abuse in medical professionals approximates that of the general population.  Controlled studies using DSM diagnostic criteria suggest that physicians have the same rates (8-14%) of substance abuse and dependence as the rest of the population 3 and slightly lower rates compared to other occupations.4,5 Epidemiological surveys reveal the same. Hughes, et al.6 found a lifetime prevalence of drug or alcohol abuse or dependence in physicians of 7.9%, markedly less than the 14.6% prevalence reported in the general population by Kessler.7

State Physician Health Programs

Perhaps it is how physicians are treated differently when they develop a substance abuse or mental health problem.

Physician Health Programs (PHP) may be considered the equivalent to Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) for other occupations. PHPs meet with, assess and monitor doctors who have been referred to them for substance use or other mental or behavioral health problems. Originally developed as “impaired physician” programs, the PHPs were created to help doctors who developed problems with substance abuse or addiction as an alternative to disciplinary action by State Medical Boards. These programs existed in almost every state by 1980. Often staffed by volunteer physicians and funded by State Medical Societies, “impaired physician” programs served the dual purpose of both helping sick colleagues and protecting the public. Preferring rehabilitation to probation or license revocation (so long as the public was protected from imminent danger)  most medical boards accepted the concept with support and referral.   However, most EAPs were developed with the collaboration of workers unions or some other group supporting the rights and interests of the workers.  Not so with PHPs  as there is no such organization representing doctors.   PHPs developed in the absence of regulation or oversight.    As a consequence there is no meaningful accountability.   

In Ethical and Managerial Considerations Regarding State Physician Health Programs published in the Journal of Addiction Medicine in 2012, John Knight, M.D. and J. Wesley Boyd, M.D., PhD who collectively have more than 20 years experience with the Massachusetts PHP state that:

“Because PHP practices are unknown to most physicians before becoming a client of the PHP, many PHPs operate out- side the scrutiny of the medical community at large. Physicians referred to PHPs are often compromised to some degree, have very little power, and are, therefore, not in a position to voice what might be legitimate objections to a PHP’s practices.”8

Noting that “for most physicians, participation in a PHP evaluation is coercive, and once a PHP recommends monitoring, physicians have little choice but to cooperate with any and all recommendations if they wish to continue practicing medicine,” Knight and Boyd raise serious ethical and managerial questions about current PHP policies and practice including conflicts of interest in referrals for evaluation and treatment, lack of adherence to standards of care for forensic testing of substances of abuse, violations of ethical guidelines in PHP research, and conflicts of interest with state licensing boards.

Knight and Boyd recommend “that the broader medical community begin to reassess PHP’s as a whole” and that “consideration be given toward the implementation of independent ethical oversight and establish and appeals process for PHP clients who feel they are being treated unfairly.” 8 They also recommend the relationship of PHP’s between the evaluation and treatment centers and licensing boards be transparent and that national organizations review PHP practices and recommend national standards “that can be debated by all physicians, not just those who work within PHPs.”8 Unfortunately this has not happened. Most physicians have no idea that the state physician health programs have been taken over by the “impaired physicians movement.”

In his Psychology Today blog,  Boyd again recommends oversight and regulation of PHPs.   He cites the North Carolina Physicians Health Program Audit released in April of 2014 that reported the below key findings:

As with Knight and Boyd’s paper outlining the ethical and managerial problems in PHPs, the NC PHP audit finding that abuse could occur and not be detected generated little interest from either the medical community or the media.

Although state PHPs present themselves as confidential caring programs of benevolence they are essentially monitoring programs for physicians who can be referred to them for issues such as being behind on chart notes. If the PHP feels a doctor is in need of PHP “services” they must then abide by any and all demands of the PHP or be reported to their medical board under threat of loss of licensure.

State PHP programs require strict adherence to 12-step doctrine9 yet many of the physicians monitored by them are neither addicts nor alcoholics. Some do not even have substance abuse issues and there are reports of “disruptive” physicians being diagnosed with “character defects” at the “PHP-approved” facilities that do these assessments.   PHPs require abstinence from drugs and alcohol yet use  non-FDA approved Laboratory Developed Tests in their monitoring programs. Many of these tests were introduced to commercial labs and promoted by ASAM/FSPHP physicians.10-12

LDTs bypass the FDA approval process and have no meaningful regulatory oversight.   The LDT pathway was not designed for “forensic” tests but clinical tests with low risk.   Some are arguing for regulation and oversight of LDTs due to questionable validity and risk of patient harm.13

These same physicians are claiming a high success rate for PH programs9 and suggesting that they be used for random testing of all physicians.14

As with LDTs, the state PHPs are unregulated, and without oversight. State medical societies and departments of health have no control over state PHPs.

Their opacity is bolstered by peer-review immunity, HIPPA, HCQIA, and confidentiality agreements. The monitored physician is forced to abide by any and all demands of the PHP no matter how unreasonable-all under the coloration of medical utility and without any evidentiary standard or right to appeal.

The ASAM has a certification process for physicians and claim to be “addiction” specialists. This“board certification” is not recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties and is not a recognized medical specialty. The goal of the ASAM is to be recognized as the experts in addiction medicine with the consensus expert opinion based on the 12-step prohibitionist brain disease model. The ASAM has aligned itself with a number of inpatient drug treatment centers  (Hazelden, Talbott, Marworth, Bradford,etc) and are heavily funded by the drug testing industry.   It is in fact a “rigged game.”

State PHPs are non-profit non-governmental organizations and have been granted quasi-governmental immunity by most State legislatures from legal liability.

By infiltrating “impaired physician” programs they have established themselves in almost every state by joining, gaining power, and removing dissenters. Groupthink and 12-step indoctrination are the goals. By advertising as advocates for doctors who are “caring,” “confidential resources,” “giving help,” and advocating for “colleagues in need” the outward appearance is one of benevolence.

The biggest obstacle is that this system allows them to throw the normal rules of conduct under the imperative of a higher goal assumed to trump all other consideration. Those outside of programs either defend or ignore the reports of ethical and criminal violations, complacent in their trust of these “experts” claiming they are just helping sick doctors and protecting the public.

With no oversight or regulatory body involved this is all done with impunity, immunity, and undercover. They use the accusation of substance abuse as an indication to disregard the claims of the accused. The physician is left without rights, depersonalized, and dehumanized. The imposition of confinement, stigmatization, lack of oversight of the organizations, peer-review protected confidentiality, and lack of procedural protection is a one-way train to hopelessness and despair.

By establishing a system that of coercion, control, secrecy, and misinformation, the FSPHP is claiming an “80% success rate” 15and deeming the “PHP-blueprint” as “the new paradigm in addiction medicine treatment.

The ASAM/FSPHP had a major influence on the DSM-V where drug abuse and dependence are no longer separate entities. They are also working behind the scenes to get legislation to randomly drug test all physicians.

They are now after the “disruptive physician” and the evidentiary criteria are fairly low and red flags include “deviating from workplace norm in dress or conduct” and being tardy for meetings.

They have identified “the aging physician” as a potential problem because “as the population of physicians ages,””cognitive functioning” becomes “a more common threat to the quality of medical care.”

The majority of physicians are unaware that the Federation of State Medical Boards House of Delegates adopted an updated Policy on Physician Impairment in 2011 that uses addiction as an example of a “potentially impairing illness.”  According to the Federation of State Physician Health Programs …”physician illness and impairment exist on a continuum with illness typically predating impairment, often by many years. This is a critically important distinction. Illness is the existence of a disease. Impairment is a functional classification and implies the inability of the person affected by disease to perform specific activities.”

“Process addiction” was added as a potentially impairing illness including compulsive gambling, compulsive spending, compulsive video gaming, and “workaholism.” According to the FSPHP “the presence of a process addiction can be problematic or even impairing in itself, and it can contribute to relapse of a physician in recovery. As such, process addictions should be identified and treated.” They define three levels of relapse including the novel “relapse without use.”

Bullying, Helplessness, Hopelessness and Despair

Perceived helplessness is significantly associated with suicide.16 So too is hopelessness, and the feeling that no matter what you do there is simply no way out17,18 Bullying is known to be a predominant trigger for adolescent suicide19-21 One study found that adolescents in custody who were bullied were 9.22 times more likely to attempt suicide than those were not bullied.22

Heightened perceptions of defeat and entrapment are known to be powerful contributors to suicide.23,24 The “Cry of Pain” model 25,26 specifies that people are particularly prone to suicide when life experiences are interpreted as signaling defeat which is defined as a sense of “failed struggle” or loss of social position and resources.. The person is unable to identify an escape from or resolution to a defeating situation, a sense of entrapment proliferates with the perception of no way out, and this provides the central impetus for ending ones life.

There is also evidence that rescue factors such as social supports may play a role in preventing suicide. These rescue factors act buffers to protect against suicide in the face of varying degrees of life stress.27,28 The study of female physicians revealed meetings to discuss stressful work experiences as a potential protective factor, 29 and support at work when difficulties arose appeared to be a protective factor for the male physicians.30   Research involving Finnish physicians found that control over one’s work and organizational justice were the most important determinants of work-related wellbeing.31,32 Organizational justice is related to fairness and refers to an individuals perception of an organizations behaviors, decisions, and actions and how these influence one’s own attitudes and behaviors and has been identified as a psychosocial predictor of health and wellbeing33 34Low organizational justice has been identified as a notable risk factor for psychological distress and depression.35,36

A recent report indicates that job stress, coupled with inadequate treatment for mental illness may play a role in physician suicide..

Using data from the National Violent Death Reporting System the investigators compared 203 physicians who had committed suicide to more than 31,000 non-physicians and found that having a known mental health disorder or a job problem that contributed to the suicide significantly predicted being a physician.1

Physicians were 3.12 times more likely to have a job problem as a contributing factor. In addition, toxicology testing showed low rates of medication treatment.  The authors concluded that inadequate treatment and increased problems related to job stress are potentially modifiable risk factors to reduce suicidal death among physicians.

They also warned that the database used likely underestimated physician suicides because of “underreporting and even deliberate miscoding because of the stigma attached.”

I can think of nothing more institutionally unjust than an unregulated zero-tolerance monitoring program with no oversight using unregulated drug and alcohol testing of unknown validity.

We have heard of numerous suicides due to these institutionally unjust programs.   Three doctors died by suicide in Oklahoma in a one month period alone (August 2014).   All three were being monitored by the Oklahoma PHP.   I went to an all boys high-school of less than 350 students yet a classmate a couple years ahead of me died by suicide a few months ago. He was being monitored by the Washington PHP. His crime?  A DUI in 2009–a one-off situational mistake that in all likelihood would never have recurred.  But as is often the case with those ensnared by state PHPs he was forced to have a “re-assessment” as his five-year monitoring contract was coming to an end.  These re-assessments are often precipitated by a positive Laboratory Developed Test (LDT) and state medical boards mandate these assessments can only be done at an out-of-state “PHP-approved” facility.    Told he could no longer operate and was unsafe to practice medicine by the PHP and assessment center he then hanged himself.  And at the conclusion of Dr. Pamela Wible’s haunting video below are listed just the known suicides of  doctors; many were being monitored by their state PHPs–including the first name on the list– Dr. Gregory Miday.

None of these deaths were investigated. None were covered in the mainstream media.   These are red flags that need to be acknowledged and addressed!    This anecdotal evidence suggests the oft-used estimate of 400 suicides per year (an entire medical school class) is a vast underestimation of reality—extrapolating just the five deaths above to the entire population of US doctors suggests we are losing at least an entire medical school per year.

As physicians we need to demand transparency, oversight, regulation and auditing by outside groups. This is a public health emergency.

To wit:

They first came after the substance abusers and I did not speak out because I was not a substance abuser.

They then came for those with psychiatric diagnoses and I did not speak out because I was not diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder.

They then came after the “disruptive physician” and I did not speak out because I was not disruptive.

They then came after the aging physician and I did not speak out because I was young.

They then came after me and there was no one else to speak out for me.

  1. Ford DE, Mead LA, Chang PP, Cooper-Patrick L, Wang NY, Klag MJ. Depression is a risk factor for coronary artery disease in men: the precursors study. Archives of internal medicine. Jul 13 1998;158(13):1422-1426.
  2. Frank E, Dingle AD. Self-reported depression and suicide attempts among U.S. women physicians. The American journal of psychiatry. Dec 1999;156(12):1887-1894.
  3. Brewster JM. Prevalence of alcohol and other drug problems among physicians. JAMA : the journal of the American Medical Association. Apr 11 1986;255(14):1913-1920.
  4. Anthony J, Eaton W, Mandell W, al. e. Psychoactive Drug Dependence and abuse: More Common in Some Occupations than in Others? Journal of Employee Assistance Res.1992;1:148-186.
  5. Stinson F, DeBakely S, Steffens R. Prevalence of DSM-III-R Alcohol abuse and/or dependence among selected occupations. Alchohol Health Research World. 1992;16:165-172.
  6. Hughes PH, Brandenburg N, Baldwin DC, Jr., et al. Prevalence of substance use among US physicians. JAMA : the journal of the American Medical Association. May 6 1992;267(17):2333-2339.
  7. Kessler RC, Berglund P, Demler O, Jin R, Merikangas KR, Walters EE. Lifetime prevalence and age-of-onset distributions of DSM-IV disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication.Archives of general psychiatry.Jun 2005;62(6):593-602.
  8. Boyd JW, Knight JR. Ethical and managerial considerations regarding state physician health programs. Journal of addiction medicine. Dec 2012;6(4):243-246.
  9. DuPont RL, McLellan AT, White WL, Merlo LJ, Gold MS. Setting the standard for recovery: Physicians’ Health Programs. Journal of Medical Regulation. Mar 2010;95(4):10-25.
  10. Skipper GE, Weinmann W, Thierauf A, et al. Ethyl glucuronide: a biomarker to identify alcohol use by health professionals recovering from substance use disorders. Alcohol and alcoholism.Sep-Oct 2004;39(5):445-449.
  11. Skipper GE, Thon N, Dupont RL, Baxter L, Wurst FM. Phosphatidylethanol: the potential role in further evaluating low positive urinary ethyl glucuronide and ethyl sulfate results.Alcoholism, clinical and experimental research. Sep 2013;37(9):1582-1586.
  12. Skipper GE, Thon N, DuPont RL, Campbell MD, Weinmann W, Wurst FM. Cellular photo digital breathalyzer for monitoring alcohol use: a pilot study.European addiction research.2014;20(3):137-142.
  13. Sharfstein J. FDA Regulation of Laboratory-Developed Diagnostic Tests: Protect the Public, Advance the Science. JAMA : the journal of the American Medical Association. Jan 5 2015.
  14. Pham JC, Pronovost PJ, Skipper GE. Identification of physician impairment.JAMA : the journal of the American Medical Association. May 22 2013;309(20):2101-2102.
  15. McLellan AT, Skipper GS, Campbell M, DuPont RL. Five year outcomes in a cohort study of physicians treated for substance use disorders in the United States. Bmj. 2008;337:a2038.
  16. Rivers I, Noret N. Potential suicide ideation and its association with observing bullying at school.The Journal of adolescent health : official publication of the Society for Adolescent Medicine. Jul 2013;53(1 Suppl):S32-36.
  17. Lester D, Walker RL. Hopelessness, helplessness, and haplessness as predictors of suicidal ideation. Omega. 2007;55(4):321-324.
  18. Beck AT. Hopelessness as a predictor of eventual suicide. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. 1986;487:90-96.
  19. Hinduja S, Patchin JW. Bullying, cyberbullying, and suicide. Archives of suicide research : official journal of the International Academy for Suicide Research. 2010;14(3):206-221.
  20. Hertz MF, Donato I, Wright J. Bullying and suicide: a public health approach. The Journal of adolescent health : official publication of the Society for Adolescent Medicine. Jul 2013;53(1 Suppl):S1-3.
  21. Kim YS, Leventhal B. Bullying and suicide. A review. International journal of adolescent medicine and health. Apr-Jun 2008;20(2):133-154.
  22. Kiriakidis SP. Bullying and suicide attempts among adolescents kept in custody.Crisis.2008;29(4):216-218.
  23. Taylor PJ, Gooding P, Wood AM, Tarrier N. The role of defeat and entrapment in depression, anxiety, and suicide. Psychological bulletin. May 2011;137(3):391-420.
  24. Lester D. Defeat and entrapment as predictors of depression and suicidal ideation versus hopelessness and helplessness. Psychological reports. Oct 2012;111(2):498-501.
  25. Williams JMG. Cry of Pain. Harmondsworth: Penguin; 1997.
  26. Williams JMG, Crane C, Barnhofer T, Duggan DS. Psychology and suicidal behavior: elaborating the entrapment model. In: Hawton K, ed. Prevention and treatment of suicidal behavior: from science to practice. Oxford: Oxford University Press; 2005:71-89.
  27. Borowsky IW, Ireland M, Resnick MD. Adolescent suicide attempts: Risks and protectors.Pediatrics. 2001;107(485).
  28. Clum GA, Febbraro GAR. Stress, social support and problem-solving appraisal/skill: Prediction of suicide severity within a college sample.Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment. 1994;16:37-46.
  29. Fridner A, Belkic K, Marini M, Minucci D, Pavan L, Schenck-Gustafsson K. Survey on recent suicidal ideation among female university hospital physicians in Sweden and Italy (the HOUPE study): cross-sectional associations with work stressors. Gender medicine. Apr 2009;6(1):314-328.
  30. Fridner A, Belkic K, Minucci D, et al. Work environment and recent suicidal thoughts among male university hospital physicians in Sweden and Italy: the health and organization among university hospital physicians in Europe (HOUPE) study. Gender medicine. Aug 2011;8(4):269-279.
  31. Lindfors PM, Meretoja OA, Toyry SM, Luukkonen RA, Elovainio MJ, Leino TJ. Job satisfaction, work ability and life satisfaction among Finnish anaesthesiologists. Acta anaesthesiologica Scandinavica. Aug 2007;51(7):815-822.
  32. Heponiemi T, Kuusio H, Sinervo T, Elovainio M. Job attitudes and well-being among public vs. private physicians: organizational justice and job control as mediators. European journal of public health. Aug 2011;21(4):520-525.
  33. Elovainio M, Kivimaki M, Vahtera J. Organizational justice: evidence of a new psychosocial predictor of health. Am J Public Health. Jan 2002;92(1):105-108.
  34. Lawson KJ, Noblet AJ, Rodwell JJ. Promoting employee wellbeing: the relevance of work characteristics and organizational justice. Health promotion international. Sep 2009;24(3):223-233.
  35. Hayashi T, Odagiri Y, Ohya Y, Tanaka K, Shimomitsu T. Organizational justice, willingness to work, and psychological distress: results from a private Japanese company. Journal of occupational and environmental medicine / American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. Feb 2011;53(2):174-181.
  36. Lang J, Bliese PD, Lang JW, Adler AB. Work gets unfair for the depressed: cross-lagged relations between organizational justice perceptions and depressive symptoms. The Journal of applied psychology. May 2011;96(3):602-618.

 

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Michael Langan, M.D.

Medical Science Under Dictatorship–Exposing the Physician Health Program (PHP) Menace

Disrupted Physician

Dictatorships can be indeed defined as systems in which there is a prevalence of thinking in destructive rather than in ameliorative terms in dealing with social problems. The ease with which destruction of life is advocated for those considered either socially useless or socially disturbing instead of educational or ameliorative measures may be the first danger sign of loss of creative liberty in thinking, which is the hallmark of democratic society. All destructiveness ultimately leads to self-destruction—Leo Alexander

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“Let it be considered, too, that the present inquiry is not concerning a matter of right, if I may say so, but concerning a matter of fact.”–Adam Smith

“Most men endure the sacrifice of the intellect more easily than the sacrifice of their daydreams.  They cannot bear that their utopias should run aground on the unalterable necessities of human existence”  -Ludwig von Mises


The  importance of a recent article published in Medscape critical…

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