Physician health programs: ‘Diagnosing for dollars’?

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Source:  Clinical Psychiatry News

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As medicine struggles with rising rates of physician burnout, dissatisfaction, depression, and suicide, one solution comes in the form of Physician Health Programs, or PHPs. These organizations were originally started by volunteer physicians, often doctors in recovery, and funded by medical societies, as a way of providing help while maintaining confidentiality. Now, they are run by independent corporations, by medical societies in some states, and sometimes by hospitals or health systems. The services they offer vary by PHP, and they may have relationships with state licensing boards. While they can provide a gateway to help for a troubled doctor, there has also been concern about the services that are being provided.

stethoscope with lots of money

Physicians find their way to PHPs in a number of ways. A doctor whose behavior suggests impairment can be referred to the PHP by his employer, or by a licensing board, following a complaint. In these instances, participation often is a condition of employment or of continued licensure, and the PHP serves as an agent of the hospital or the state. Doctors may also be referred to PHPs for monitoring if they ascribed to having a diagnosis of psychiatric illness or substance abuse, either now or in the past, and are with or without obvious impairment. Finally, PHPs serve as a portal to treatment for physicians who self-identify and self-refer in an effort to get help. Their use is encouraged in an effort to prevent bad outcomes from mental health conditions, stress, and substance abuse, in those who are suffering in ways that would not otherwise call attention to their plights. In these situations, the PHP may serve as the agent of the patient or client, but there may remain dual-agency issues if the physician says something that leads the PHP to be concerned about the doctor’s fitness. Compliance with PHP recommendations, including drug screening, might be mandated, and physicians may resent these requirements.Louise Andrew, MD, JD, served as the liaison from the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) to the the Federation of State Medical Boards from 2006 to 2014. In an online forum called Collective Wisdom, Andrew talked about the benefits of Physician Health Programs as entities that are helpful to stuggling doctors and urged her colleagues to use them as a safe alternative to suffering in silence.

More recently, Dr. Andrew has become concerned that PHPs may have taken on the role of what is more akin to “diagnosing for dollars.” In her May, 2016 column in Emergency Physician’s Monthly, Andrew noted, “A decade later, and my convictions have changed dramatically. Horror stories that colleagues related to me while I chaired ACEP’s Personal and Professional WellBeing Committee cannot all be isolated events. For example, physicians who self-referred to the PHP for management of stress and depression were reportedly railroaded into incredibly expensive and inconvenient out-of-state drug and alcohol treatment programs, even when there was no coexisting drug or alcohol problem.”

Dr. Andrew is not the only one voicing concerns about PHPs. In “Physician Health Programs: More harm than good?” (Medscape, Aug. 19, 2015), Pauline Anderson wrote about a several problems that have surfaced. In North Carolina, the state audited the PHPs after complaints that they were mandating physicians to lengthy and expensive inpatient programs. The complaints asserted that the physicians had no recourse and were not able to see their records. “The state auditor’s report found no abuse by North Carolina’s PHP. However, there was a caveat – the report determined that abuse could occur and potentially go undetected.

“It also found that the North Carolina PHP created the appearance of conflicts of interest by allowing the centers to provide both patient evaluation and treatments and that procedures did not ensure that physicians receive quality evaluations and treatment because the PHP had no documented criteria for selecting treatment centers and did not adequately monitor them.”

Finally, in a Florida Fox4News story, “Are FL doctors and nurses being sent to rehab unnecessarily? Accusations: Overdiagnosing; overcharging” (Nov. 16, 2017), reporters Katie Lagrone and Matthew Apthorp wrote about financial incentives for evaluators to refer doctors to inpatient substance abuse facilities.

Dr. Dinah Miller is coauthor with Annette Hanson, MD, of “Committed: The Battle Over Involuntary Psychiatric Care” (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2016)

Dr. Dinah Miller

“Medical professionals who enter the programs must pay for all treatment out-of-pocket, which could add up to thousands of dollars each year. There are also no standards on how much treatment can cost.”The American Psychiatric Association has made it a priority to address physician burnout and mental health. Richard F. Summers, MD, APA Trustee-at-Large noted: “State PHPs are an essential resource for physicians, but there is a tremendous diversity in quality and approach. It is critical that these programs include attention to mental health problems as well as addiction, and that they support individual physicians’ treatment and journey toward well-being. They need to be accessible, private, and high quality, and they should be staffed by excellent psychiatrists and other mental health professionals.”

PHPs provide a much-needed and wanted service. But if the goal is to provide mental health and substance abuse services to physicians who are struggling – to prevent physicians from burning out, leaving medicine, and dying of suicide – then any whiff of corruption and any fear of professional repercussions become a reason not to use these services. If they are to be helpful, physicians must feel safe using them.

Dr. Miller is coauthor with Annette Hanson, MD, of “Committed: The Battle Over Involuntary Psychiatric Care” (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2016).

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Physician Health Programs (PHPs): The Ford Granada of Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) and Stuntman Mike is at the wheel.

PHPs are essentially Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs)  for doctors, nurses and other health care professionals.    The vast majority of people know little or nothing about Physician Health Programs (PHPs) but they should. The grand plan is expansion to other occupations under what they are calling the “New Paradigm.”  Deemed “professional health programs”they don’t even have to change the acronym.

Physician Health Programs (PHPs) are being called  the “gold-standard” for EAPs.   Claims of unparalleled success are being used to promote PHPs to other populations as a “replicable model of recovery.”  Drs. Robert Dupont and Gregory Skipper are promoting PHPs as “A New Paradigm for Long-Term Recovery”  claiming an 80% success rate in doctors.   An article entitled “What Might Have Saved Philip Seymour Hoffman” claims the actor may still be alive today if he had access to one of these programs  and comments they “ought to be considered models for our citizenry” and the “best evidence-based addiction treatment system we have going.”

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Mercedes 450 SE

Such is not the case.  What is being touted as “gold standard” and “cream of the crop” is on closer inspection iron pyrite and curdled spit up.  I am reminded of the commercials comparing a Granada to a Mercedes when I was a kid.  I remember these commercials  well as I couldn’t wrap my head around them.  In one, as I remember it, two couples arrive at their parked adjacent cars with keys in hand. The Mercedes tries to open the door of the Granada and vice versa.  How is this scenario even possible I remember thinking. Was it a bar they just came out of  and they are drunk?     Is this related to “this is your brain on drugs?  Do they have some sort of memory problem like that old guy in the miracle ear commercial who looks confused when the waiter asks his preference for salad dressing and his companion yells “he said do you want Italian, thousand island or vinaigrette?”  How could anyone in a right state of mind  confuse a Ford Granada with a Mercedes 450SE?

 

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Granada


 

PHPs are not the Mercedes of EAPs but the jalopy with no breaks and broken steering of EAPs with Stuntman Mike from Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof at the wheel.

Like smoke alarms and air bags,  EAPs are not in the forefront most peoples minds until they need them and like smoke alarms and air bags they usually work just fine for most people. Discerning and scrutinizing one’s EAP is not a common thing.  If your EAP was replaced by the PHP model you probably wouldn’t even know it. That is why this needs to be on your radar. Caveat emptor.  Forewarned is forearmed.

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Stuntman Mike

The dark underbelly of these programs are just beginning to be exposed in the general medical community.  See Pauline Anderson’s  Physician Health Programs- More Harm Than Good?  published on Medscape and  BMJ Editor Jeanne Lenzer’s “Physician health programs under fire” for an overview.  Look in the comments section for the horror stories.

Physician Health Programs  (PHPs) claimed “gold standard” for addiction treatment. “80% success rate” being used to promote “new paradigm” to other populations. 

1. National Physician Health Program Blueprint Study Publications List

2.  Setting the Standard for Recovery: Physicians’ Health Programs

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The claim of an 80% success rate is a 2009 study published in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment entitled  Setting the Standard for Recovery: Physicians’ Health Programs and authored by Robert Dupont,  A. Thomas McLellan,  William White, Lisa Merlo and Mark Gold.  This  study is the cornerstone of the “PHP-blueprint.” It is the very  foundation on which everything else is based, a Magnum opus used to lay claim to supremacy that has been endlessly repeated and rehashed in a plethora of self-promotion and treatment community blandishment.

To date there has been no academic analysis of the “PHP-Blueprint.”    There has been no Cochrane type analysis or critical review.    There has been no opposition to its findings or conclusions which are paraded as fact and truth without challenge or question and there is a general lack of concern from those both within and outside the medical profession.

One major problem with this claim of an 80% success rate is that close to 80% of those coercively enrolled in these programs do not fit the diagnostic criteria for substance use disorder or any other psychiatric diagnosis. In reality these programs cause far more harm and if we really looked at the impact of these programs and compared them to traditional EAPs the success rate would be abysmally low.


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Make Medicine Great Again!   Please Donate and Help Drain this Swamp!

https://www.gofundme.com/PHPReform


The Expansion of Physician Health Programs (PHPs) to Other Populations

1.  Although these programs claim to help doctors they may actually be harming many and contributing to suicide.

2.  The plan is to greatly expand these programs to other populations and you could be next.

In 2012 Robert Dupont delivered the keynote speech at the Drug and Alcohol Testing Industry Association annual conference and described a “new paradigm” for addiction and substance abuse treatment and proposed expansion of this paradigm to other populations including workplace, healthcare, and schools.

It is therefore critical that the “PHP-blueprint” be examined using critical reasoning and evidence base.   All of this needs to be assessed in terms of legitimacy and intent.

Lack of Evidence-Base and Conflicts of Interest

A  cursory  analysis of the study on which this success rate is based reveals very little evidence base.

The claim of 80% success rate in physicians is based on Setting the Standard for Recovery: Physicians’ Health Programs is unfounded.  The study is a poorly designed using a single data set (a sample of 904 physician patients consecutively admitted to 16 state PHP’s).

It  is non-randomized and non-blinded rendering the evidence for effectiveness of the PHP treatment model over any other treatment model (including no treatment) poor from a scientific perspective.  The study contains multiple flaws in both reasoning (type I and type II errors) and statistical analysis that render its conclusions invalid.

In addition the impact of undeclared but substantial financial conflicts-of-interest (including funding by drug testing and addiction treatment industries) and personal ideological biases (including personal 12-step recovery from addictions) in the authors of this study also needs to be considered.

Moreover the misdiagnosis and over-diagnosis of addiction in physicians in this paradigm  incentivized by lucrative self-referral dollars for expensive 90-day treatment programs is a significant factor.

False Endpoints and High Mortality Rate

The mean age of the 904 physicians was 44.1 years. They report that 24 of 102 physicians were transferred and lost to follow “left care with no apparent referral.”

What happened to them? These are physicians with multiple identifiers (state license, DEA, UPIN, etc) not transient drifters.

More importantly what happened to those 48 who were reported to the Medical Board for noncompliance and had their licenses revoked–that would be the critical time when this population would be at most risk for completing a suicide. That would be when hope was lost and the coerced physician, knowing that the fight was over, would take that step.

The outcomes they used were the last reported status of the PHP participant enrolled in the program.   Measuring success of program completion in doctors compared to the general population is meaningless as the short-term outcomes are quite different in terms of the external consequences imposed.   The consequence of not completing a PHP is the invariably career ending.    So what happened to the 24 of who “left care with no apparent referral,” the 85 who “voluntarily stopped or retired,” and the 48 who “involuntarily stopped or license revoked.”

Whether you leave a PHP voluntarily, involuntarily, or with no apparent referral it is the end game and your career is over.  Comparing this to other populations where the consequences of failing to complete the program are not so final is inappropriate.     Claiming superiority over programs with a 40% success rate is unfounded because for most of those people the consequences are not so final and may mean nothing more than an increase in testing frequency.

The big question is what happened to the 157 physicians who left or stopped?  How many of them killed themselves. With an average age of 44 there were  6 reported suicides 22 deaths, and another 157 no longer doctors.  I would venture to say the number of suicides is a lot higher than they claim.  But using the last recorded PHP status as the final outcome obfuscates this.

Due to the severity of the consequences a 20% failure rate is quite concerning. This is of particular concern because many doctors (if not most) monitored by PHPs are not addicts.

As noted above, PHPs are essentially Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs)  for doctors. Most EAPs, however, were developed in the presence of trade unions and other organizations working on behalf of the best interests of the employee. This collaborative effort led to EAPs that were more or less “organizationally just” with procedural fairness and transparency.

Imposed 12-step ideology and use of non-FDA Approved Drug and Alcohol Testing

No such organizations exist for doctors.   Due to the absence of oversight and accountability  PHPs have been able to use non-FDA approved laboratory developed tests of unknown validity on doctors without any opposition.

The distinction between professional and private life as a fundamental value of our society  and the importance of this boundary was also upheld by these groups.

In the PHP paradigm no procedural fairness or transparency exists and the boundary between professional and private life has eroded.

PHPs impose 12-step ideology on all doctors referred to these programs.   State Medical Boards  enforce this in violation of the Establishment Clause of the 1st Amendment yet there is little recourse for doctors as they are threatened with non-compliance and loss of licensure.

Selling the PHP Paradigm

The use of 12-step  is most likely not ideologically driven but profit driven.

Abstinence based 12-step programs justify the use of frequent drug and alcohol testing with ongoing lifelong assessment and treatment.    As with drug-courts,  PHPs provide a lucrative model to the drug and alcohol testing, assessment and treatment industry.

The plan to expand this to other populations is outlined in the ASAM White Paper.

Screen Shot 2017-03-08 at 7.29.21 PMThis concerns all of us.  The first step needs to be a critical appraisal of  Setting the Standard for Recovery: Physicians’ Health Programs,  the foundation of their claims of an 80% success rate and a conflict-of-interest analysis of its authors.  The legitimacy of the study and its claims needs to be questioned.

It does not take a Cochrane review to see that the emperor has no clothes.  This is not difficult. It is straightforward and simple.

As an illegitimate and irrational authority it is necessary that this opinion remain unchallenged. We need to challenge it.

Historical, political, economic and social analysis reveals that the “PHP-blueprint” is a false-construct built on circumnavigation and obfuscation.  An evidence-based scrutiny of the literature would reveal it to be invalid and of little probative value.

But if  nobody speaks up it is inevitable that they will expand the “PHP blueprint”  to other employee assistance programs and schools.

This is not just about doctors.  You too are at risk for coercion, control, conformity and forced adherence to a  lifetime of abstinence and 12-step indoctrination and if you do not speak up now it won’t be a risk but a certainty.


PHYSICIAN OR PROFESSIONAL HEALTH PROGRAM SURVEY

Professional Health Program (PHP) Survey

Please click on the link below and complete the following survey if you have been monitored or are being monitored by a PHP.

Professional Health Program (PHP) Survey

This is a confidential survey. If you have concerns about anonymity please create an alternative alias email address (this video shows you how to create an alias G-mail address), then use the alias email address as your “name” for future correlation.

scotty

The Federation of State Physician Health Programs (FSPHP) is an unexamined, illegitimate and irrational authority: Let’s drain this swamp in 2017!

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Nosce te ipsum. Nosce inimicum tuum

According to Erich Fromm rational authority is based on competence, experience, and mutual respect.  Irrational authority is often disguised as benevolent paternalism and is designed to perpetuate or intensify conditions of inequality through the use or threat of force, deceptiveness, and secretiveness.

The Federation of State Physician Health Programs (FSPHP) has has operated as an unexamined authority for the past 25-years .  They have pushed practice and policy unquestioned and without opposition that has gravely harmed individual doctors, the medical profession itself and the public at large.  Everything they have done has been done to benefit themselves and their drug and alcohol assessment, testing and treatment affiliates in the provision of protections, power and profits.

screen-shot-2017-01-30-at-11-59-14-pmExamining the specific practice and policy pushed reveals a body of false-claims making designed to facilitate the systemic use of coercion and threats, remove all due process protections and fundamental rights from physicians and prevent, block and eliminate the evidence.  This practice and policy collective has created a culture of impunity, immunity and deference that is able to successfully conceal ethical violations and crimes.  Uncovering their wrongdoing is a nearly impenetrable gauntlet. It is a system of institutional injustice that is undoubtedly a major contributor to the suicide epidemic in the profession.  They have been able to conceal the truth, avoid investigation and prevent punishment for years by removing themselves from all accountability and outside inquiry. Direct and specific questioning appears to be their Achille’s heel as the recent spat of articles critical of these programs is showing just how much of an illegitimate authority they really are.screen-shot-2017-01-30-at-11-59-05-pm

In her rebuttal to Pauline Anderson’s article “Physician Health Programs: More Harm Than Good?” FSPHP President Doris Gunderson dismissed the accusations of fraud and abuse in one fell swoop as  “allegations rather than facts” and second hand anecdotes.  Countering allegations of an absence of oversight and regulation she states:

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“In fact, we operate under a microscope, answering to individual practitioners, medical boards, malpractice carriers, defense attorneys, state attorneys, medical societies, hospitals, medical schools and residency training programs. We are also accountable to patient safety entities and a Board of Directors.”

Untrue. Accountability demands both provision of information and justification for actions to outside entities capable of punishing misconduct. . What was done and why?  No such entity exists and no pathway for appeal or grievance redressal exists either. Zero accountability.  Ditto for the “PHP-approved” assessment and treatment centers. As cash only out-of-pocket facility they remove themselves from the prying eyes of insurers.

screen-shot-2016-01-13-at-9-55-47-amThe North Carolina PHP Audit  found the past FSPHP President and NC PHP director Warren Pendergast could not identify the qualitative or quantitative indicators used for “approving”  PHP-approved facilities. The best he could come up with is “reputation” and “word of mouth” yet state medical boards mandate evaluations of doctors at these  facilities and specifically exclude  non-“PHP-approved” facilities.This is enforced by the Federation of State Medical Boards Policy on Physician Impairment.  Each state managed by the FSPHP utilizes the same dozen or so facilities and each state medical board mandates it under threat of disciplinary action.  It is in fact a rigged game.

Denying accusations of coercion Gunderson states in her rebuttal to Anderson’s article:

“The detractors of PHPs interviewed for the article maintain that PHPs are coercive. Yet the report fails to mention that PHPs have no authority to mandate treatment and monitoring, suspend or revoke licensure, or otherwise discipline physicians.”

screen-shot-2015-10-07-at-7-11-18-pmThe report fails to mention it because it is more either/or logical fallacy based on the false dichotomy between “treatment” and “punishment” that is often used to promote the FSPHP mythology.  Although PHPs do not have the legal authority to mandate, suspend or revoke a license they have the functional authority to do so.   This is also dictated by public policy.  (ASAM Policy on Coordination Between Treatment Providers,  Professionals Health Programs, and Regulatory Agencies).

Legitimate authority articulates ethical, evidence-based, or internally consistent arguments when challenged.  Legitimate authority does not simply delegitimize one’s opponent and use logical fallacy and obfuscation to avoid addressing the substance of an argument. In her rebuttal Gunderson claims the NC Audit was favorable to them because no evidence of abuse was found.  This is akin to a serial killer claiming victory because no bodies were found in his dungeon replete with torture devices and restraints. State auditor Beth Wood set this straight when she told the BMJ in  Physician Health Programs Under Fire  that the holes were big enough in the program “you could drive a truck through them” and it would be “difficult, if not impossible, to defend” oneself against an incorrect assessment” as no ability to “appeal a diagnosis or assessment” existed.

screen-shot-2016-01-13-at-9-52-11-am“Compounding the problem, said Wood, was that “the chief executive and medical director were in total control of entire process.” They assessed allegedly impaired doctors, but when those assessments were contested, they were responsible for presenting complaints to the state medical board. The doctors concerned were not allowed to be present and were not allowed to see the programs’ medical reports on them.”

Multiple Barriers Removing Accountability at Multiple Levels

The  inability to obtain one’s own medical records or lab reports is the first obstacle one must overcome. The second barrier is that even if documents are obtained there is no one to give them to.  The third is the existence of “point people” who deflect, block and otherwise dismiss valid complaints.  The only oversight provided to the involved labs is an an accreditation agency, the  College of American Pathologists (CAP) They can investigate and correct but do not have the ability to sanction.

screen-shot-2016-12-09-at-1-13-29-pmOf the many hundreds of doctors I have spoken to and who have taken my survey not one has been able to obtain evidence of abuse.  It was either refused, censored or doctored.   I have obtained documentary evidence that is specific, detailed and unequivocal.

It is therefore critical it be recognized for what it shows and it is morally imperative that those involved be held to account as the documents illustrate clearly and undeniably a collusion between a state PHP and its drug testing lab to fabricate evidence.  The corruption is top-down as it involves another former FSPHP President Luis Sanchez and the VP of Laboratory operations at USDTL Joseph Jones.  As explicit and detailed as it is in revealing unequivocal  black and white crimes it has been ignored by the usual channels.

Screen Shot 2017-01-30 at 11.58.54 PM.pngResearch on street criminals suggests the certainty of punishment has the strongest deterrent effect (basically will I be caught) and the more people think they will be arrested for a crime the less likely they are to commit it. Criminals weigh their actions against possible gains and consequences and the risk of consequences in this system have been essentially zero.  Diagnosis rigging, coercion, threats and abuse are rampant because they have no fear of punishment.  The Chairman of the commission that examined the  causes of the 2008 financial collapse compared the  relatively small fines paid by corporations to “someone who robs a 7-Eleven, takes $1,000 and being able to settle for $25 and no admission of wrongdoing.” He added,“Will they do it again? Absolutely, because it pays.” This is like someone who robs a 7-Eleven, takes $1,000 and never gets caught so he goes to the next 7-Eleven and takes $2000 then hits as many 7-Elevens as he can for as much as he can. There is zero-accountability. No fines. No repercussions. No risk. What has happened is not only logical but inevitable. It is time to name the enemy.  The enemy is not state physician health programs (PHPs) but those in charge of them. The Federation of State Physician Health Programs (FSPHP) is a heretofore unexamined authority.    Current evidence is revealing the FSPHP is also an irrational authority. It is also quite easy to show by historical documentation of the policy and practice they have pushed that they are an illegitimate authority.   Illegitimate authority when identified and recognized needs to be removed.

Nosce te ipsum. Nosce inimicum tuum. Know thyself, know thy enemy.  The FSPHP is the enemy. They cannot be bargained with. They need to be removed.   In the interim we need to set up advocacy and watchdog groups to help and protect those already caught in this web of manipulation, oppression and fear. Wake up, Stand up and Speak up.  Silence is consent. Let’s drain this swamp in 2017.

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Please donate!  Need urgent funding!  No donation is too small. Come on! https://www.gofundme.com/PHPReform

 

 

Adding 1964 Rolling Stones Decca 7″ 45″Off the Hook” Vinyl signed by Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Brian Jones, Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts to 25 K in prizes previously offered to the first person who can disprove FSPHP President did not commit multiple felonies!

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It has now been almost two months since I offered over $25 thousand dollars in cool prizes to the first person to disprove past president of the Federations of State Physician Health Programs and Medical Director of Physician Health Services, inc. Dr. Luis “the dirty” Sanchez did not commit multiple felonies.  (December 9, 2016) and as far as I know no one has been knocking at my door.   All of these prizes can be seen in the post below:

I am Offering Over $25,000 in cool prizes to anyone who can show past FSPHP President Sanchez did not commit at least 3 felonies based on documentary evidence alone! I claim the documents show direct evidence of multiple serious crimes –prove me wrong and the whole lot is yours!

Perhaps the booty isn’t good enough so I am adding a 1964 Decca  7″ 45 RPM original pressing of Little Red Rooster  (A) and Off the Hook (B) on vinyl signed by Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Brian Jones, Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts.  This is in addition to the over 25 K of other prizes previously offered. All you gotta do is show that Sanchez did not commit fewer than three felonies. Simple enough?

Dr. Sanchez machinations and misconduct can be seen here.  It took a formal complaint with the College of American Pathologists to get the truth out.  More of this fiasco can be seen here and here.   What Sanchez  and his co-conspirators did is egregious and ethically reprehensible.  It shows a complete lack of moral compass and personal integrity.  What was done from collection to report to coverup  and everything in-between is in fact indefensible on all levels (procedurally, ethically, and legally).  So too are the actions of Board attorney Deb Stoller (who not only covered it up forensic fraud but was complicit in it) and those of Assistant Attorney General Bryan Bertram (who is continuing to participate in a cover-up of a cover-up) in violation of ethics and professional conduct. In a perfect society Sanchez would have his medical license revoked and the other two would have been disbarred by now.  In a perfect society all three would be held accountable for crimes.  Does Bertram’s superiors know what he is doing? I don’t think so.  They will at some point.

I think everyone would agree that there should be zero-tolerance for forensic fraud and cover-up and cover-ups of cover-ups in positions of power.    Any person of honor and civility would agree. The documentary evidence shows with clarity that this subterfuge and chicanery was not accident or oversight.  It was intentional and purposeful misconduct.  It is indefensible. Attorneys cannot ignore the obvious.

Transparency, regulation, and accountability are necessary for these groups.

To be fair if Sanchez  can give any  procedural, ethical, or legal explanation for his actions then I stand corrected.  Same applies to his apologists, lackeys and  morally challenged counterparts Stoller and Bertram.  Just one will suffice.  I’ll erase my blog and vanish into oblivion.  No questions asked. Into the woodwork.  But If this trio  cannot then this malfeasance needs to be addressed openly and publicly.   It is their agencies responsibility to correct this –however late the hour may be.  My suspicion is that all of this has been blocked from going upstream.

Forensic fraud has grave and far reaching effects and in this case has severely impacted many people and includes patient deaths. Perhaps this trio needs to take a “moral inventory” and see that this this type of behavior causes real damage to real people and put a faces on it.  The increasing comments on Pauline Anderson’s latest Medscape article would be a start.

Perhaps Sanchez, Stoller and Bertram  need to be asked these questions by an  investigative reporter. Direct and simple questions deserve direct and simple answers.  “Not my department” and “no comment” are no longer acceptable.  We need to demand answers.

It is people just like this who are killing physicians across the country.   The body count is vast and multiple. This type of behavior is directly and temporally related to the recent epidemic of suicides in doctors.  They have removed themselves from conventional accountability by withholding information and suppressing facts. No longer.  The sympathizers and apologists who refuse to acknowledge or investigate wrongdoing will be held to account. Sanchez, Stoller and Bertram believe they are beyond reproach; complacent in the belief they are protected from harm and insulated from investigation.   The evidence, however, is not going away. Neither am I. Neither are the growing legion of ethical individuals who want to drain this swamp.

Corruption is misuse of entrusted power.  It occurs when those who have been given authority to carry out expected goals instead use their position and power to benefit themselves and others close to them. Abuse of power is particularly egregious when that person is doing the opposite of what he or she is supposed to do.

Accountability is necessary to prevent corruption and necessitates both the provision of information and justification for actions;  what was done and why?   The other defining factor of accountability is the ability of outside actors to punish and sanction those who commit misconduct or wrongdoing.    Without these constraints corruption is inevitable.

This is corruption plain and simple and  The doctors and patients of Massachusetts and the doctors and patients of this entire country deserve better than this.

As no checks and balances exist I am offering 25K in prizes and now adding a 1964 45″ signed by the Rolling Stones; Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Brian Jones, Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts.  One of the problems in this system cognitive dissonance and the belief that there must be something more to it.  There isn’t.  Fact is I could offer you my car, everything I own or my very soul and you would still not be able to disprove that Sanchez committed multiple felonies, that Stoller not only  covered it all up but was complicit and that Bertram is engaging in a cover-up of a cover-up by misusing administrative law and is in violation of the rules of professional conduct and basic ethics and morality. So here’s the ticket.  Either come get the prizes or help me get this exposed and dismantled.  Either defend them or help me hold them accountable. Silence is not an option.

 

 
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I am Offering Over $25,000 in cool prizes to anyone who can show past FSPHP President Sanchez did not commit at least 3 felonies based on documentary evidence alone! I claim the documents show direct evidence of multiple serious crimes –prove me wrong and the whole lot is yours!

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According to Erich Fromm rational authority is based on competence, experience, and mutual respect.  Irrational authority is often disguised as benevolent paternalism and is designed to perpetuate or intensify conditions of inequality through the use or threat of force, deceptiveness, and secretiveness.

The Federation of State Physician Health Programs (FSPHP) has has operated as an unexamined authority for the past 25-years .  They have pushed practice and policy unquestioned and without opposition that has gravely harmed individual doctors, the medical profession itself and the public at large.  Everything they have done has been done to benefit themselves and their drug and alcohol assessment, testing and treatment affiliates in the provision of protections, power and profits.

Examining the specific practice and policy pushed reveals a body of false-claims making designed to facilitate the systemic use of coercion and threats, remove all due process protections and fundamental rights from physicians and prevent, block and eliminate the evidence.  This practice and policy collective has created a culture of impunity, immunity and deference that is able to successfully conceal ethical violations and crimes.  Uncovering their wrongdoing is a nearly impenetrable gauntlet. It is a system of institutional injustice that is undoubtedly a major contributor to the suicide epidemic in the profession.  They have been able to conceal the truth, avoid investigation and prevent punishment for years by removing themselves from all accountability and outside inquiry. Direct and specific questioning appears to be their Achille’s heel as the recent spat of articles critical of these programs is showing just how much of an illegitimate authority they really are.

In her rebuttal to Pauline Anderson’s article “Physician Health Programs: More Harm Than Good?” FSPHP President Doris Gunderson dismissed the accusations of fraud and abuse in one fell swoop as  “allegations rather than facts” and second hand anecdotes.  Countering allegations of an absence of oversight and regulation she states:

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“In fact, we operate under a microscope, answering to individual practitioners, medical boards, malpractice carriers, defense attorneys, state attorneys, medical societies, hospitals, medical schools and residency training programs. We are also accountable to patient safety entities and a Board of Directors.”

Untrue. Accountability demands both provision of information and justification for actions to outside entities capable of punishing misconduct. . What was done and why?  No such entity exists and no pathway for appeal or grievance redressal exists either. Zero accountability.  Ditto for the “PHP-approved” assessment and treatment centers. As cash only out-of-pocket facility they remove themselves from the prying eyes of insurers.

screen-shot-2016-01-13-at-9-55-47-amThe North Carolina PHP Audit  found the past FSPHP President and NC PHP director Warren Pendergast could not identify the qualitative or quantitative indicators used for “approving”  PHP-approved facilities. The best he could come up with is “reputation” and “word of mouth” yet state medical boards mandate evaluations of doctors at these  facilities and specifically exclude  non-“PHP-approved” facilities.This is enforced by the Federation of State Medical Boards Policy on Physician Impairment.  Each state managed by the FSPHP utilizes the same dozen or so facilities and each state medical board mandates it under threat of disciplinary action.  It is in fact a rigged game.

Denying accusations of coercion Gunderson states in her rebuttal to Anderson’s article:

“The detractors of PHPs interviewed for the article maintain that PHPs are coercive. Yet the report fails to mention that PHPs have no authority to mandate treatment and monitoring, suspend or revoke licensure, or otherwise discipline physicians.”

screen-shot-2015-10-07-at-7-11-18-pmThe report fails to mention it because it is more either/or logical fallacy based on the false dichotomy between “treatment” and “punishment” that is often used to promote the FSPHP mythology.  Although PHPs do not have the legal authority to mandate, suspend or revoke a license they have the functional authority to do so.   This is also dictated by public policy.  (ASAM Policy on Coordination Between Treatment Providers,  Professionals Health Programs, and Regulatory Agencies).

Legitimate authority articulates ethical, evidence-based, or internally consistent arguments when challenged.  Legitimate authority does not simply delegitimize one’s opponent and use logical fallacy and obfuscation to avoid addressing the substance of an argument. In her rebuttal Gunderson claims the NC Audit was favorable to them because no evidence of abuse was found.  This is akin to a serial killer claiming victory because no bodies were found in his dungeon replete with torture devices and restraints. State auditor Beth Wood set this straight when she told the BMJ in  Physician Health Programs Under Fire  that the holes were big enough in the program “you could drive a truck through them” and it would be “difficult, if not impossible, to defend” oneself against an incorrect assessment” as no ability to “appeal a diagnosis or assessment” existed.

screen-shot-2016-01-13-at-9-52-11-am“Compounding the problem, said Wood, was that “the chief executive and medical director were in total control of entire process.” They assessed allegedly impaired doctors, but when those assessments were contested, they were responsible for presenting complaints to the state medical board. The doctors concerned were not allowed to be present and were not allowed to see the programs’ medical reports on them.”

Multiple Barriers Removing Accountability at Multiple Levels

The  inability to obtain one’s own medical records or lab reports is the first obstacle one must overcome. The second barrier is that even if documents are obtained there is no one to give them to.  The third is the existence of “point people” who deflect, block and otherwise dismiss valid complaints.  The only oversight provided to the involved labs is an an accreditation agency, the  College of American Pathologists (CAP) They can investigate and correct but do not have the ability to sanction.

screen-shot-2016-12-09-at-1-13-29-pmOf the many hundreds of doctors I have spoken to and who have taken my survey not one has been able to obtain evidence of abuse.  It was either refused, censored or doctored.   I have obtained documentary evidence that is specific, detailed and unequivocal.

It is therefore critical it be recognized for what it shows and it is morally imperative that those involved be held to account as the documents illustrate clearly and undeniably a collusion between a state PHP and its drug testing lab to fabricate evidence.  The corruption is top-down as it involves another former FSPHP President Luis Sanchez and the VP of Laboratory operations at USDTL Joseph Jones.  As explicit and detailed as it is in revealing unequivocal  black and white crimes it has been ignored by the usual channels.

Research on street criminals suggests the certainty of punishment has the strongest deterrent effect (basically will I be caught) and the more people think they will be arrested for a crime the less likely they are to commit it. Criminals weigh their actions against possible gains and consequences and the risk of consequences in this system have been essentially zero.  Diagnosis rigging, coercion, threats and abuse are rampant because they have no fear of punishment.  The Chairman of the commission that examined the  causes of the 2008 financial collapse compared the  relatively small fines paid by corporations to “someone who robs a 7-Eleven, takes $1,000 and being able to settle for $25 and no admission of wrongdoing.” He added,“Will they do it again? Absolutely, because it pays.” This is like someone who robs a 7-Eleven, takes $1,000 and never gets caught so he goes to the next 7-Eleven and takes $2000 then hits as many 7-Elevens as he can for as much as he can.

Multiple Crimes, Multiple Felonies and Egregious Misconduct.  Fabrication, Falsification, Concealment and Perjured Evidence. Color-of-Law Abuse, Civil Rights Violations 

In June of 2011 I signed a patent-license agreement with a company to bring an epinephrine auto-injector to FDA approval  within three years.  It was recently mentioned in an NBC news article in the wake of Mylan’s Epipen price hike and the patent  documents can be seen here and a slideshare overview here.  This was successfully derailed the following month when I was asked by the state PHP to have an alcohol test.  This was for no apparent reason. I have never been accused of having an alcohol problem and my work performance at MGH was reported as “impeccable.” There were no issues in any arena.  The events are described in detail here, here, and here.

The blood test was reported positive to the medical board on July 19, 2011 as seen here:   positive-peth-july-19-2011    I requested records but PHS refused but relented in December 2011 and I obtained the   USDTL Litigation Packet  which contained a faxed request from PHS to the lab requesting my unique  identification number and a “chain-of-custody” be added to an already positive report See key docs here.:12:3:2011 Litigation Packet (Selected)

The records showed falsely created and fabricated evidence. Clear fraud. I filed a complaint with the College of American Pathologists CAPLetter.  They investigated and forced USDTL to correct the test as reported in an  October 4, 2012 letter from the lab to Sanchez. Instead of revealing the correction the two concealed the revision and reported “non-compliance”  two weeks later  and board took disciplinary action against my license.  In December 2012 CAP contacted me to followup on the outcome of the revised test which I was unaware of.   I informed them they did not tell me and confronted  PHS but they claimed no knowledge of it.. On December 11, 2012 Sanchez reports to the board that he just found out that the test was revised but it had nothing to do with the disciplinary action taken by the board..  Sanchez and Jones deny there was any correction 67-days earlier and stand by their guns.

In August of 2014 I was able to obtain the complete USDTL documents under new HIPPA-Privacy Rule for labs which removed PHS approval.  Full docs can be seen here:  August 6, 2014 to Langan with health materials.   The  October 4, 2012 correction from USDTL to Sanchez  contradicting Sanchez claim of not finding out about the correction until December is included.Note the language used in the  Letter claiming Sanchez was informed of the revised  test 67-days after he actually was.

Recently obtained documents under records reform act –  Langan PDF copy  They show documents entered as evidence date-stamped and entered into the administrative record after the hearings at which they were to be heard.   Multiple others missing and never addressed.   It is now clear that Stoller concealed all documents relating to PHS misconduct since December of 2011.

Specific and detailed evidence of criminal activity was provided to Board Attorney Deb Stoller over the course of more than five-years. This showed clear collusion between the state physician health program and one of their preferred national drug testing labs.  It is important to recognize the gravity of what this means.   I provided a state officer with evidence of crimes similar to Annie Dookhan–clear fabrication and collusion to fabricate evidence. She suppressed it.     This is much much worse than Annie Dookhan as the lab is used by state physician health programs across the country and over the past five-years their have been multiple suicides of doctors who have allegedly been given fabricated drug and alcohol tests just like mine.    Many of these doctors were given positive tests right before they were to complete a 5-year contract and this is a pattern that seems to be occurring as the rule rather than the exception.   Facing five more years of abuse some doctors have chosen to end their lives rather than continue with the PHP.

Specific and detailed evidence of the fraud was given to Deb Stoller over the course of five-years and she did nothing about it to protect Sanchez.   The impact of this is much greater and the consequences much more severe than what occurred with Dookhan.  As The documents clearly showed felony crimes this is egregious and indefensible.

screen-shot-2016-12-09-at-1-14-00-pmWhat is chilling is that this request to falsify evidence was done by fax and the lab complied with full knowledge that the positive-test would result in grave and possibly permanent consequences for someone.  The moral detachment of Jones is incomprehensible to me.  If I was offered a  million dollars at this moment to fabricate a drug test on some stranger I would not do it. I would not for any amount of money and I don not believe the majority of my friends would either.I also contacted Jones (  August 6, 2014 to Langan with health materials ) and told him of the severe consequences this was having for my family but he did not respond.   Had it not been for the new HIPAA -Privacy rule I would never have obtained these documents and without the record reforms act I would never have obtained the evidence implicating Stoller ( Langan PDF copy )

screen-shot-2016-12-09-at-1-13-52-pmIt is now time to enter phase two of exposing the corruption of PHPs. It is now necessary to necessary to relentlessly contradict the lies and falsehoods and and present the evidence with logic and clarity.    It is necessary to name names, point fingers and demand that direct and specific answers to direct and specific questions.  It is time to shine a bright light on the specific  unethical and illegal acts detailed here. They are the rule not the exception and the diagnostic rigging and forensic fraud make these more murders than suicides. This is a public health emergency.   By my estimates over 80% of those being monitored by PHPs do not even meet the diagnostic criteria for substance use disorder or any other psychiatric disorder.  It is political abuse of psychiatry.

screen-shot-2016-04-26-at-10-58-19-pmLegitimate authority has a responsibility to be truthful to one’s words and deeds and policies need to be enforced in a consistent manner.  State PHPs are engaging in fraud in collusion with their preferred drug and alcohol assessment, testing and treatment centers.   They are giving diagnoses to individuals who do not meet the diagnostic criteria for a given diagnosis to provided unneeded treatment. They are financially exploiting doctors under threat of disciplinary action against there medical licenses.

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The Board claims no crimes were committed because no one has been charged with any crimes.  No, Dr. Sanchez has committed very serious crimes including multiple felonies. This can no longer be ignored. These crimes can be determined by the documentary evidence alone. They are self-evident.

To settle the matter once and for all I am offering over $25,000.00 in cool prizes to the first person who can disprove my claim that Dr. Sanchez committed multiple felonies.    My claim is that by simply looking at the dates and documents multiple felonies are clear.  They are not equivocal.  The first person to disprove this assertion may collect each and every item pictured below.  You can even write up a legally binding contract and I will sign it. There is something for everyone and if anyone has any questions about any of it feel free to ask.screen-shot-2016-09-09-at-7-26-42-pm

To summarize,  I can find multiple clear  felonies in the documents that need no further inquiry. They are black letter law and involve fraud, concealment, perjury and other crimes.  Policies and laws need to be enforced equally.   The Board cannot play favorites and give allowances to its friends when it comes to criminal activity.  Sanchez is licensed by the medical board just as I am and the screen-shot-2016-09-09-at-9-08-18-pmboard’s position on the fraudulent practice of medicine is quite clear.

One felony would be demand the board address what is seen here.  Multiple felonies make it inexcusable to ignore and if it is ignored it will be relentlessly addressed again and again and again.   As it is so difficult to obtain evidence it is necessary that this be addressed with full measure as a precedent.  People just like this are harming good doctors across the country and unless you are profiting from the drug and alcohol testing and treatment racket you should be disgusted at what is seen here.   The fact that Sanchez pontificates on the behavior of others makes this particularly egregious.  Moreover, Jones also tests newborns and other groups with these same tests.  If he is this unethical who knows what amount of damage has occurred.  Anyone of integrity and conscience should be outraged by what is seen here.  As it is one of the clearest and most specific examples of laboratory fraud I am going to be asking for help getting this out–it should be used to show how this type of drug and alcohol testing can be abused.

Direct and specific questions deserve direct and specific answers. This will need to be addressed directly as it is not going away and neither am I.   If cannot disprove fewer than three felonies than they need to be addressed.   Suspect similar point-people in other agencies protecting them.

If multiple felonies were not committed then  you would think at this very moment there should be people knocking on the door trying to get my attention so they can collect these prizes.    I don’t hear anybody knocking, do you?

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Prizes as Below

ASAM Weekly Editorial recommends Physician Health Program (PHP) organizational groups provide addiction treatment advocacy on a national level to guide public policy: A RED FLAG if ever there was one.

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ASAM Weekly is a publication of the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) circulated by E-mail to “more than 25,00 addiction professionals” every Tuesday.  It provides timely news briefings of top stories related to addiction medicine. The current issue includes a  National Survey on Drug Use and Health study correlating substance use with suicidal ideation;  original research  suggesting a strong link between  alcohol use and”thwarted belonging”  ( wanting and needing to be with others being socially isolated ) with both homicidal and suicidal ideation in a group under community corrections supervision by the criminal justice system; a study of privately billed services looking at the economic impact of the opioid epidemic on the healthcare system (Fair Health White Paper) which found a 1000% increase in opioid related treatment and service costs between 2011 and 2014;  and an article written for the  Huffington Post entitled  “When ‘All or Nothing’ Means Life or Death”  that questions the abstinence based model that currently monopolizes addiction treatment in the United States which the author notes  “is not only harmful and killing people,” but also “defies much of what we know about addiction.”

In his weekly editorial Editor-in-Chief William Haning refers to prescription database finding that the number of opioid prescriptions written in Tennessee last year outnumbered the number of people in Tennessee.  He appropriately notes this should “stun the readership” as it should. He notes several other articles this week “remind us that most of the public is not terribly interested in whether somebody has an addiction”  or the socioeconomic impact of addiction. He states “the public really can’t be expected to care” is someone with a substance use disorder is using substance and may not even be “realistically expected to care very much” about those who recover.

“What they do and rightly care about,” Haning declares,  “is the outcome of substance usage” and the public “is much more impressed by and will react to the consequences, ” As consequences he points to the two articles concerning suicidal and homicidal ideation and a report concerning sexual assault and violence from the University of Wisconsin .  He goes on to state:  “It causes an understandable lack of sympathy when a group of illnesses imparts injury to others.”  He lists crime, trauma in the workplace, spread of infectious disease and impact of childhood development of the disordered family as additional outcomes or consequences.

Haning notes a dilemma for those in recovery–they want to advocate for others but do not want to draw attention to themselves as the attention is far different from a diabetic or parent of a child with muscular dystrophy pushing for increased research or approval of a new medication.  He points out a national organization advocating for the treatment of the mentally ill exists (NAMI) that is comprised largely of those being treated but  “no strong national equivalent exists for substance use disorder yet” with two “organized bodies” as exceptions:    “physicians who have themselves entered recovery (IDAA), and another, smaller body of physicians in recovery who are engaged in the treatment of SUDs” These “organized bodies” have generally been focused on “ensuring identification of and care of their colleagues and patients” but have more recently become involved in the “pursuit of public policy changes.”  

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Propoganda, Truth and Credibility

In   Propaganda: The Formation of Men’s Attitudes  Jacques Ellul discusses the underlying assumptions and ideology that give rise to propaganda and the structures and belief systems needed for propaganda to flourish.  Propagandists  move with an “assortment of soothing and easily digestible notions.”  He discusses how easy it is for most people to accept propaganda as the individual does not want information but only value judgments and preconceived positions.  On the surface Haning’s proposal is rational and seems like a good idea. Who could argue with it?

It is important to recognize what Haning is referring to.    IDAA is an acronym for International Doctors in Alcoholics Anonymous , an AA fellowship of more than 9500 doctors.  The organized body focused on ensuring “identification” of “colleagues” are the state physician health (basically employee assistance programs for doctors).  47 of them are under the management of the  Federation of State Physician Health Programs (FSPHP).  The organized body focused on “care” of “patients is a group called   Like Minded Docs (LMDs). Collectively these groups represent the physician health program model and it is being promoted as “gold standard addiction treatment” based on a 2009 study called the“PHP-blueprint”  that reported remarkable success rates (80%).  The  high success rate is attributed primarily to close linkage with 12-step programs and the use of “residential and outpatient treatment programs that were selected for their excellence.”

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Mechanics and Mentality

The “PHP-blueprint” is abstinence based and 12-step participation is mandatory.   Random frequent drug and alcohol testing is used with zero-tolerance. A positive test results in an out-of-state “PHP-approved” assessment center and concepts such as “potentially impairing illness” and “relapse without use” are accepted.  The core organizational structure includes the state PHP, commercial drug testing labs and a number of  out-of-state “PHP-approved” assessment and treatment centers.  The PHP’s have no regulation or oversight.  The testing, assessments and treatment are out -of-pocket cash only.The assessment and treatment centers have very little oversight and because the  commercial drug-testing labs use non-FDA approved laboratory developed tests (LDTs)  they are not regulated.  No agency exists to provide sanctions for faulty or even fraudulent testing.  No internal or external avenues of complaint exist.  It is essentially a closed system in which no outside opinion is acknowledged let alone addressed.    Transparency and accountability are absent. Due process is absent.   Every “PHP-approved” facility is represented by a Like-Minded Doc and many of the doctors involved in the drug-testing process are also on the list of LMDs.   It is a rigged system and explained  here.    Choice in assessment and treatment is removed and the “PHP-approved” facilities engage in “diagnosis rigging” and are willing to label people with diagnoses when they do not in fact meet the diagnostic criteria for that diagnosis.  Pervasive problems include:

–Labeling normal variations in behavior as pathological

–Failing to receive proper diagnosis and effective treatment in those who need it

–Forcing unneeded evaluations and treatments including forced committment

 

Pervasive and Serious Concerns

Physician Health Programs- More Harm Than Good?  was the first article critical of  PHPs. “Physician health programs under fire” was recently published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ). The lack of accountability and financial and ideological conflicts of interest are addressed.  Complaints include coercion,  threats, “diagnoses rigging,” lab fraud and false diagnoses to  to support unneeded treatment.    The physician health program model is a major factor in the current suicide epidemic in doctors.

Profit Motive and Plans for Expansion

In his Editorial Haning  mentions a “national organization for advocacy of treatment of the mentally ill” called NAMI and this stands for the  National Association of Mental Illness (NAMI). It is considered a pharmaceutically funded front-group founded by Abott Labs, Pfizer, Eli-Lilly and pharmaceutical manufacturers.  They all market drugs for mental illness.    Mother Jones reported  $11+ million over 5 years from Big Pharma, and an Eli Lilly executive directed operations from their headquarters..  A U.S. Senate investigation revealed Big Pharma contributed $23 million in a just two years and until forced by the Senate Finance Committee to identify its corporate donors  had refused to do so. The “Campaign to Stop the Stigma of Mental Illness”  was started by NAMI and the group claims one out of five adults will suffer some form of mental illness in their lifetime.    The system is designed to provide a seemingly altruistic agenda but is in actual fact driven and funded by groups who profit from labelling more people mentally ill.     It is, in fact, the very same business model as what we see here but the primary profiteers are not Big Pharma but Big Rehab -the multi-billion dollar drug and alcohol testing, assessment and treatment industry.images-4

What is planned is explicitly spelled out in the  ASAM White Paper on Drug Testing . This is a Trojan horse for expanding the “PHP-blueprint.”  The business mode is similar to the razor or printer model.  The razor or printer does not generate a profit, the razor and printer cartridge replacements do recurrently.  PHPs are simply employee assistance programs (EAPs). Selling the PHP (i.e replacing an existing EAP) does not turn a profit, the non-FDA approved drug and alcohol testing does (and the referrals to the “approved” assessment and treatment centers.    The New York Times reported that the size of the US drug-screening industry grew from $800 million in 2000 to $2 billion in 2013.

Infrastructure Already in Place 

The drug and alcohol assessment, treatment and testing organizations are already present To replace an EAP with the PHP model  it is only necessary to convince an employer or  administrative agency in charge of professional licensure.   If elected as public policy advocates for addiction treatment they will most assuredly be lobbying and working on state and federal laws and aligning themselves with licensing boards to remove due process and civil liberties by “medicalization”.  This could impact anyone from our elderly, to our military, pregnant women, nursing mothers and school children. It is a testing and treatment  Trojan Horse.   They will be pushing public policy to coerce people into treatment who do not need treatment.

Creating Bogus Risks of Danger

Linking patient harm to “impaired” doctors is one of the primary propaganda techniques used by the FSPHP to forward the assessment, testing and treatment agenda. Be creating fear in hospital administrators, medical boards and the public ( “The Junkie in the O.R.” ) This appeal to  consequences (argumentum ad consequentiam) is suggested by Haning in the editorial. He states the public will react to consequences such as crime, trauma in the workplace, spread of infectious disease and “impact of childhood development of the disordered family “as potential consequences. The PHP system uses a medical license as “leverage” but any other license or benefit provided by the state could be used in the same manner.   This is what is called “contingency management” and how this is done is discussed in the ASAM White Paper on Drug Testing.

FSPHP/FASAM/LMD

 

 

screen-shot-2016-09-29-at-7-11-01-amThe primary architects of this system can be found on a list of Fellows of the American Society of Addiction Medicine. The list can be seen  here and includes  G. Douglas Talbott,  Robert Dupont, and  Paul Earley whose contributions to the current paradigm I have detailed in previous posts.   The list also includes  Greg Skipper  who introduced the first non-FDA approved  laboratory developed test for alcohol and is currently promoting  Soberlink -another junk science gadget that is prominently advertised as the top header in the current issue of   ASAM Weekly.

The list of like-minded docs was taken down from the website several months ago. Below is a screenshot taken the week prior.  On this list are Dupont, Earley, Skipper and the medical director’s of every single “PHP-approved” assessment and treatment center and it must be a small world after all because if you look at this list it has the name “Bill Haning” on it.  You will also find him on the list of ASAM Fellows.

 

 

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British Medical Journal feature “Physician health programs under fire” by Jeanne Lenzer

Last August   Physician Health Programs- More Harm Than Good?  was published on Medscape and broke new ground as it was the first mainstream medical article critical of state physician health programs (PHPs).  Pauline Anderson raised specific and serious questions that deserved specific and serious answers.   That did not happen.  The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) and Federation of State Physician Health Programs (FSPHP) both responded to Anderson’s article but  completely deflected the substantive issues.   The specific and serious questions raised were simply met with silence and patently ignored.

Jeanne Lenzer’s “Physician health programs under fire” published today in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) shines further light on state physician health programs and discusses the lack of transparency, oversight and accountability and profit motive of these programs. Direct and serious questions that deserve direct and serious answers.    Let’s hold both the ASAM and FSPHP accountable for directly answering them this time without the benefit of their usual  obfuscation and  deflection.   No more logical fallacies or appeals to authority. The authorities are both illegitimate and irrational and to see that all one has to do is look under the rock and sunshine is the best disinfectant.

 

 

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Physician Health Programs: The Need for Transparency and Accountability

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Accountability, or answerability,  is necessary to prevent abuse and corruption.  This requires both the provision of information and justification for actions.  What was done and why?

Professional guidelines and standards of care, ethical codes of conduct and the law are all objective benchmarks that can be used to assess the actions and decisions of others.  In any free society this necessitates the existence of organizations of truly independent opinion capable of standing in this judgment.

State PHPs are Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) over which the state health department has no supervisory oversight.  There is no regulation, no transparency and no accountability.  There is no public scrutiny and they police themselves.

In Ethical and Managerial Considerations Regarding State Physician Health Programs Drs. John Knight and J. Wesley Boyd call for greater oversight and scrutiny of PHPs by the medical community at large.   They recommended periodic auditing, national standards and regulation.  They also attempted to convince the Massachusetts Medical Society to implement changes at PHS where they served as Associate Directors with over two decades of collective experience.

These efforts to promote transparency and accountability at both local and national levels, however,  fell on deaf ears.

State PHPs have systematically removed those not conforming to groupthink.  Threatening them with litigation if they breached “peer-review” statutes and confidentiality agreements has effectively silenced them from reporting any misconduct, abuse or even crimes they may have witnessed.

In Massachusetts John Knight was removed in 2009 and J. Wesley Boyd in 2010.  In Ethical and Managerial Considerations Regarding State Physician Health Programs  they comment “if a PHP highlights a physician as particularly problematic, the evaluation center might–whether consciously or otherwisetailor its diagnosis and recommendations in a way that will support the PHP’s impression of that physician.”  So too will the clinical laboratories.  

How is this any different from the case of Dr. Farid Fata, the Michigan oncologist who intentionally diagnosed healthy patients with cancer so he could charge them for unneeded chemotherapy?  The U.S. Attorney called it the “most egregious” case of health care fraud ever. His acts may have contributed to one patient death.   The institutional injustice of the PHP system is causing countless deaths of physicians.

To consciously “tailor” a diagnosis is fraud.  To tailor a diagnosis of substance use disorder or any other psychiatric diagnosis is the political abuse of psychiatry.  Misrepresentation, dishonesty, deception, and distortion play no role in the Profession and Guild of Medicine.  To do so violates the basic moral principles of Medical Ethics–Autonomy, Beneficence, Non-Maleficence and Justice.

The “PHP-approved” assessment and treatment centers are all staffed by doctors of “like-mind.”  It is a rigged game.

An audit of the North Carolina PHP found essentially no oversight from the Medical Board or Medical Society.  The audit found that “abuse could occur without being detected,” and this is by design.  By removing and blocking the provision of information necessary for accountability, restricting the liberties and freedoms of physicians, and increasing their power and control they have erected a framework of hidden abuse.

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The situation in North Carolina is standard operating procedure for PHPs under the Federation of State Physician Health Programs (FSPHP).  It is not the exception but the rule.

While outspoken in denouncing what they regard as unethical and unprofessional behavior by other doctors, they are resistant to apply even the most minimal standards to their own activities.

To whom are the PHPs accountable? Whom do they represent? These are legitimate concerns.


 

PHYSICIAN OR PROFESSIONAL HEALTH PROGRAM SURVEY

Professional Health Program (PHP) Survey

Please click on the link below and complete the following survey if you have been monitored or are being monitored by a PHP.

Professional Health Program (PHP) Survey

This is a confidential survey. If you have concerns about anonymity please create an alternative alias email address (this video shows you how to create an alias G-mail address), then use the alias email address as your “name” for future correlation.

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Medscape Medical News—Physician Health Programs: More Harm Than Good? State-Based Programs Under Fire

Screen Shot 2015-07-27 at 9.11.46 AMMedscape Medical News > Psychiatry

Physician Health Programs: More Harm Than Good?
State-Based Programs Under Fire
Pauline Anderson
August 19, 2015

There is growing scrutiny of US physician health programs (PHPs), which are state-based plans for doctors with substance abuse or other mental health problems.

Detractors of the PHP system claim physicians who voluntarily disclose they have mental health or drug problems can be forced into treatment without recourse, face expensive contracts, and are frequently sent out of their home state to receive the prescribed therapy. Some physicians allege that during their interaction with the treatment centers, large amounts of money were demanded up front before any assessment was even conducted.

In addition, critics assert that there is no real oversight and regulation of these programs.

Called by turns coercive, controlling, and secretive, with possible conflicts of interest, some say the PHP experience has led vulnerable physicians to contemplate suicide.
Two states ― North Carolina and Michigan ― have already been asked to step in and investigate many of the issues raised by PHP critics. In North Carolina, the state agreed with many of the concerns raised and recommended “better oversight” by its medical board and society. And in Michigan, litigation in the form of a class action lawsuit has been launched against the Health Professional Recovery Program (HPRP), a program similar to PHPs.

Michael Langan, MD, an internal medicine specialist in Boston, has first-hand experience with a PHP.

Dr Langan was at Massachusetts General and Harvard University in Boston when he approached the Massachusetts state PHP to help him get off an opioid analgesic. He had begun taking the drug to help him sleep after developing shingles and said he spent several months in prescribed PHP treatment after “signing on the dotted line.”

On his first day at the assessment center, Dr Langan said he was asked how he was going to pay $80,000 cash. “This was before they even evaluated me,” he told Medscape Medical News. Subsequently, Dr Langan said he underwent an independent hair and fingernail analysis that turned out to be negative “for all substances of abuse.”

Since then, he has been documenting possible cases of negative interaction with these organizations. The system, he says, leaves physicians “without rights, depersonalized and dehumanized.”
He fears that the role of PHPs has expanded well beyond its original scope, becoming monitoring programs that have the power to refer physicians for evaluation and treatment even on the basis of administrative failings, such as being behind on chart notes, he said.

He has heard reports of “disruptive physicians” being diagnosed with “character defects.” The monitored physician, he added, “is forced to abide by any and all demands of the PHP ― no matter how unreasonable ― under the coloration of medical utility and without any evidentiary standard or right to appeal. Once in, it’s a nightmare.”

Disempowered, Without Recourse

It is estimated that 10% to 12% of physicians will develop a drug or alcohol problem at some point during their careers.

PHPs were initially established to help physicians grappling with a substance abuse or mental health problem and to provide them with access to confidential treatment while avoiding professional investigation and potential disciplinary action.

Often staffed by volunteer physicians and funded by state medical societies, the original intent of these programs was to help health professionals recover while protecting the public from potentially unsafe practitioners.

PHPs assess and monitor the physicians referred to them. In most states, physicians who comply with PHP recommendations can continue to work, provided they undergo regular drug testing and other testing to ensure sobriety.

Some PHPs are run by independent nonprofit corporations, others by state medical societies. Still others receive support from state medical licensing boards. The relationship of each PHP to the state medical board varies. The scope of services offered through PHPs also differs.

Today, such programs exist in every state except California, Nebraska, and Wisconsin and are represented by an umbrella organization known as the Federation of State Physician Health Programs (FSPHP).

According to its mission statement, the FSPHP’s mandate is to “support physician health programs in improving the health of medical professionals, thereby contributing to quality patient care.”

Coercive Process

Concerns about the PHP system have been percolating for a number of years. In 2012, an editorial by J. Wesley Boyd, MD, PhD, Cambridge Health Alliance and Harvard Medical School, and John R Knight, MD, Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, published in the Journal of Addiction Medicine brought many of the issues to the profession’s attention.

In their editorial, Dr Boyd and Dr Knight alleged that once a mental health issue has been disclosed, doctors are “compelled” to enter a PHP and are instructed to comply with any PHP recommendations or face disciplinary action.

“Thus, 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.”

In an interview with Medscape Medical News, Dr Boyd, who was associate director of the Massachusetts PHP for 6 years, elaborated on what he sees as the lack of due process afforded physicians by such programs.

“In general, these programs are given a free pass because it’s doctors helping doctors, and the feeling is that they wouldn’t be doing that if they weren’t generally nice people concerned about the well-being of others.”

Although many PHPs and the individuals running them are well intentioned, “there are generally few avenues for meaningful appeal” for doctors wishing to dispute PHP treatment recommendations, said Dr Boyd.

Approached on this question, the FSPHP’s director of program operations, Linda Bresnahan, maintains in a written response to Medscape Medical News that “options exist for a physician to seek an additional independent evaluation” and to appeal to the medical board or workplace.

Not so, said Dr Boyd, who counters that physicians have been made to feel “disempowered” and without recourse. “People tend to think that if you raise complaints, you’re just bellyaching and your complaint can’t be legitimate.”

Dr Boyd also said he has heard anecdotal reports of a number of doctors whose interactions with a PHP were so difficult they became suicidal.

“It’s not surprising that if you have your licensing board crawling up your rear end, rates of depression go up and rates of suicide go up,” he said.

Regular Audits in Order?

More and more physicians, even those involved in a PHP, feel that regular monitoring of such programs is in order. For example, Dr Boyd said there should be routine audits “to ensure that rampant abuses of power are not happening.”

Asked whether she believes random audits for state PHPs are warranted, the FSPHP’s Bresnahansaid that the federation “supports quality assurance processes, utilizing both internal and external approaches, and is working to develop guidelines for PHPs to promote accountability, consistency, and excellence.”

Michael Myers, MD, professor of clinical psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, SUNY Downstate Medical Center, in New York City, who is on the advisory board of the New York PHP, also favors audits.

Dr Myers has been in practice for 35 years, the last 20 of which have been devoted to caring for physicians and their families. There is no doubt, he told Medscape Medical News, that his state’s PHP program has been “absolutely lifesaving” for some doctors.

However, he acknowledged that there have also been “a lot of unhappy campers” who took issue with the program’s process. At the same time, though, he can recall only one physician who made a formal complaint. Dr Myers noted that the PHP program was initiated on the premise, “if we don’t govern ourselves, then someone else will do it for us.”

“We are trying to have some autonomy, but if a person is unhappy, there isn’t the same mechanism that would exist, say, at a university, where there’s a whole protocol that a professor with a grievance can follow.”

This lack of mechanism for due process was at issue in a recent Michigan class action lawsuit launched by three health care professionals (two registered nurses and one physician assistant), who claim in the statement of complaint to represent the “hundreds, and potentially thousands of licensed health professionals injured by the arbitrary application of summary suspension procedures.”

Although the state program was originally designed to simply monitor the treatment of health professionals recommended by providers, the HPRP has recently “unilaterally expanded its role to include making treatment decisions,” according to the complaints.

They state that “the mandatory requirements of HPRP, coupled with the threat of summary suspension, make involvement in HPRP an involuntary program circumventing the due process rights of licensees referred to the program.”

They also claim the “involuntary” nature of HPRP policies and procedures and the unanimous application of suspension procedures upon HPRP case closure “are clear violations of procedural due process under the Fourteenth Amendment,” the plaintiffs claim.

Initially, the three plaintiffs had their licenses arbitrarily suspended. But in each case, the suspension was promptly overturned by a judge.

For some who have been watching these events, this lawsuit just might be the catalyst to make much needed changes to physician health programs across the country.

“Kafkaesque Nightmare”

Jesse Cavenar, Jr, MD, vice chairman and professor emeritus, Department of Psychiatry, Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, Northcarolina, calls the PHP experience a “Kafkaesque nightmare.” Although he himself has not been referred to a PHP, he said a psychiatrist colleague of his, who was anonymously accused of smelling like alcohol, was evaluated and subsequently diagnosed with alcohol abuse.

According to Dr Cavenar, there was nothing to support the diagnosis. The doctor also claimed that the “thorough” physical examination noted in his record was never conducted. In the end, said Dr Cavenar, the psychiatrist was in treatment for 13 months. His medical and legal bills topped $90,000.

Dr Cavenar, who obtained power of attorney in this case, tried but failed to communicate with the treatment facility on behalf of his colleague. He also failed to obtain the medical record.

“When you have a facility that has made a diagnosis and they refuse to talk to anybody about how they made that diagnosis, you say, ‘Something is wrong here.’ ”

During his brush with the PHP system, Dr Cavenar also discovered that at least one evaluation facility has an “understanding” with the referring PHP that a physician will be diagnosed and spend a minimum 90-day interaction period in the treatment facility.

Medscape Medical News spoke to another knowledgeable, highly placed source, who asked not to be identified. He supported Dr Cavenar’s assertion of a mandatory 90-day assessment period, saying he had heard from two other physicians who had undergone treatment in the PHP system that there was in fact such a mandatory period proscribed for them in advance even of an evaluation to determine their level of need.

“I’m no bleeding heart; if you do the crime, you do the time,” said Dr Cavenar. “That’s not what we’re seeing here. We’re seeing people who didn’t do the crime but who are getting tapped with time.”

Bresnahan told Medscape Medical News via email that FSPHP is not aware of a blanket “90-day minimum interaction period” with treatment centers. Rather, among the many treatment centers familiar to PHPs, there are a variety of “programs” within the treatment centers that vary in length, and a variety of programs such as outpatient, intensive outpatient to residential treatment, and variations of residential treatment.

“Treatment centers often offer a 1- to 5-day multidisciplinary evaluation to determine treatment needs, including length of stay and outpatient vs inpatient treatment options. In general, residential treatment centers offer different programming that vary in length of stay from 30-day treatment programs to 45-day treatment programs to 90-day treatment programs.

“Along with these options, PHPs do utilize treatment centers that will provide clients with a variable number of days of treatment. In these examples, the treatment center determines the recommended length of stay during the course of treatment based on clinical needs,” she notes.

Asked about treatment costs to physicians, Bresnahan responded that she is unaware of reports of large lump sums expected on admission.

“FSPHP is unaware of excessive up-front fees in the $80,000 range,” she writes. “It is our understanding that a treatment phase can range from $5000 to $50,000 depending upon the days and the type of programs.

“A number of healthcare professional programs are now having progress with insurance reimbursement to offset portions of the cost,” she adds. “Some offer financial assistance based on a needs assessments, and some may also offer payment plans,” Bresnahan told Medscape Medical News.

Dr Cavenar felt so strongly about his colleague not having due process that he lobbied for an audit of North Carolina’s PHP.

His initial efforts were ignored by the state medical board, he said, so he approached the state governor’s office. Finally, Dr Cavenar said he and three other concerned psychiatrists successfully secured a state audit of North Carolina’s PHP system, the results of which were released in April 2014.

PHP Originator Speaks Out

According to psychiatrist Nicholas Stratas, MD, one of the problems with the North Caroline PHP is that decisions regarding a referred physician are vetted by a legal team.

Dr Stratas has a unique vantage point. He was the originator of the North Carolina PHP, was the first-ever psychiatrist and president of the North Carolina Medical Board, and still holds numerous affiliations with both Duke University and the University of North Carolina.

“In our state, the PHP has turned into something that was never intended…. [It] has become bureaucratized and legalized,” he told Medscape Medical News. “When I was on the board, we had one attorney; now, they must have six or seven attorneys, and the whole job of triaging physicians is left to the legal department.”

Dr Stratas said that at least until the state audit, the North Carolina PHP left physicians with no legal recourse once they were referred to a treatment facility.

“They have taken the position that because they are a peer review mechanism, they don’t have to comply with the nationally recognized condition that everybody should have access to their own records; they will not provide records to the physician.”

Dr Stratas related the case of a psychiatrist who after a detailed assessment was determined to have no addiction or mental health problems. This psychiatrist got caught up in the PHP system after an anonymous caller complained about “weird” behavior, according to Dr Stratas.

On questionable advice from his attorney, the psychiatrist voluntarily suspended his medical licence, thinking it was temporary and would help sort the situation out, but now he cannot get it back until he undergoes “treatment,” said Dr Stratas. After almost 2 years, said Dr Stratas, this psychiatrist is still without his medical licence.

Auditor’s Report: Potential for Undetected Abuse

The state auditor’s report found no abuse by North Carolina’s PHP. However, there was a caveat ― the report determined that abuse could occur and potentially go undetected.

It also found that the North Carolina PHP created the appearance of conflicts of interest by allowing the centers to provide both patient evaluation and treatments and that procedures did not ensure that physicians receive quality evaluations and treatment because the PHP had no documented criteria for selecting treatment centers and did not adequately monitor them.

“Abuse could occur and not be detected…because physicians were not allowed to effectively represent themselves when disputing evaluations… [and because] the North Carolina Medical Board did not periodically evaluate the Program and the North Carolina Medical Society did not provide adequate oversight,” the auditor’s report noted.

The North Carolina PHP “did not use documented criteria to select treatment centers” and “did not conduct periodic evaluation of the treatment centers to ensure compliance with established operating criteria.”

The auditor added that the program’s “predominant” use of out-of-state treatment centers placed an undue burden on physicians.

Furthermore, according to the report, the North Carolina PHP “created the appearance of conflicts of interest by allowing treatment centers that receive Program referrals to fund its retreats, paying scholarships for physicians who could not afford treatment directly to treatment centers, and allowing the center to provide both patient evaluations and treatments.”

The report recommended that physicians have access to “objective independent due process procedures” developed by the state medical board and medical society and that plans be implemented for “better oversight” of the program.

The report also stated that North Carolina’s PHP was required to make it clear that physicians “may choose separate evaluation and treatment providers” and that the PHP undertake efforts to identify qualified in-state treatment centers for physicians.

Since its release almost a year ago, many of these recommendations have been addressed by the North Carolina Medical Board.

“We absolutely embrace the auditor’s recommendations and are working really hard to implement them,” Thom Mansfield, the board’s chief legal counsel, told Medscape Medical News.

North Carolina’s PHP has undertaken to provide periodic reports to the medical board, and an independent audit of the program will be carried out every 3 years, Mansfield added.

Physicians who disagree with their assessment or treatment can now have their case reviewed by a committee independent of the PHP compliance committee and of the medical board, he said.

Mansfield also noted that the state PHP has established criteria for identifying suitable centers to conduct assessments and offer treatment, with an emphasis on developing more in-state resources. “I know the PHP is now referring people to at least two in-state centers,” he said.

In taking these actions, said Mansfield, the North Carolina Medical Board hopes it is “showing leadership” for other states.

The “Impaired Physician Movement” and the History of the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM): The need for critical appraisal by truly independent organizations


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“With one arm around the shoulder of religion and the other around the shoulder of medicine, we might change the world.”—Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, AA World Services, Inc (1953).


In order to comprehend the current plight of the medical profession and the dark clouds that lie ahead it is necessary to understand the history of the “impaired physician movement” and the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM).

In 1985 the British sociologist G. V. Stimson wrote:

“The impaired physician movement is characterized by a number of evangelical recovered alcoholic and addict physicians, whose recovery has been accompanied by an involvement in medical society and treatment programs. Their ability to make authoritative pronouncements on physician impairment is based on their own claim to insider’s knowledge.”1

The impaired physician movement emphasizes disease and therapy rather than discipline and punishment and believes that addiction is a chronic relapsing brain disease requiring lifelong abstinence and 12-step spiritual recovery. The drug or alcohol abuser or addict is a person lacking adequate internal controls over his or her  behavior;  for his own protection as well as the protection of society external restraints are required including involuntary treatment.

The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) can trace its roots to the 1954 founding of the New York City Medical Society on Alcoholism (NYCMSA) by Ruth Fox, M.D whose husband died from alcoholism.

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Finding that alcoholics in her psychoanalytic practice did not recover when she used conventional analytic approaches, she taught her patients about alcoholism as a disease and introduced “them to AA meetings held in her living room.”2

A number of physicians in the New York Medical Society were themselves recovering alcoholics who turned to Alcoholics Anonymous for care.3

The society, numbering about 100 members, established itself as a national organization in 1967, the American Medical Society on Alcoholism (AMSA).3

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The group promoted the concept of alcoholism as a chronic relapsing disease requiring lifelong spiritual recovery through the 12-steps of AA.

By 1970 membership was nearly 500.2Screen Shot 2014-02-22 at 2.47.51 PM

In 1973 AMSA became a component of the National Council on Alcoholism (NCA), now the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) in a medical advisory capacity until 1983.

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“Abstinence from alcohol is necessary for recovery from the disease of alcoholism” became the first AMSA Position Statement in 1974.2

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In 1985 ASAM’s first certification exam was announced. According to Dr. Bean-Bayog, chair of the Credentialing Committee:

“A lot of people in the alcoholism field have long wanted physicians in the field to have a high level of skills and scientific credibility and for this body of knowledge to be accredited.”2

And in 1986 662 physicians took the first ASAM Certification Exam.medical

By 1988 membership was over 2,800 with 1,275 of these physicians “certified” as:

“having demonstrated knowledge and expertise in alcoholism and other drug dependencies commensurate with the standards set forth by the society.”4
“While certification does not certify clinical skill or competence,” the Board explained, “it does identify physicians who have demonstrated knowledge in diagnosis and treatment of alcoholism and other drug dependencies.”5
Somehow, I don't think this is quite what they had in mind!

Somehow, I don’t think this is quite what they had in mind!

Achieving “recognized board status for chemical dependence” and fellowships in  “chemical dependency”  are among the five-year objectives identified by the group.  These are to come to fruition by  “careful discussion, deliberation, and consultation” to “determine its form and structure and how best to bring it about.”5

The formation of ASAM State Chapters begins with California, Florida, Georgia, and Maryland submitting requests.6

In 1988 the AMA House of Delegates votes to admit ASAM to the House. According to ASAM News this “legitimizes the society within the halls of organized medicine.”2

In 1989 the organization changes its name to the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM).2

Since 1990, physicians have been able to list addiction medicine as a self-designated area of practice using the specialty code “ADM.”

By 1993 ASAM has a membership of 3,500 with a total of 2,619 certifications in Addiction Medicine.

The Membership Campaign Task Force sets  a goal to double its membership of 3,500 to 7,000 by the year 2000 to assure “the future of treatment for patients with chemicals. It represents a blueprint for establishing addiction medicine as a viable entity.”7

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Ninety physicians become Fellows of the American Society of Addiction Medicine (FASAM) in 1996 “to recognize substantial and lasting contributions to the Society and the field of addiction medicine.”8

Among the honorees are Robert DuPont, G. Douglas Talbott, Paul Earley, and Mel Pohl. In addition to at least five consecutive years of membership and certification by the Society, Fellows must have “taken a leadership role in ASAM through committee service, or have been an officer of a state chapter, and they must have made and continue to make significant contributions to the addictions field.”8

The American Board of Addiction Medicine (ABAM) is formed in 2007 as a non-profit 501(C)(6) organization “following conferences of committees appointed by the American Society of Addiction Medicine” to “examine and certify Diplomats.”9

In 2009 National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) Director Nora Volkow, M.D., gives the keynote address at the first ABAM Screen Shot 2014-11-18 at 10.12.23 AMboard certification diploma ceremony.10

According to an article in Addiction Professional “Board certification is the highest level of practice recognition given to physicians.”

“A Physician membership society such as ASAM, however, cannot confer ‘Board Certification,’ ” but a“ “Medical Board such as ABAM has a separate and distinct purpose and mission: to promote and improve the quality of medical care through establishing and maintaining standards and procedures for credentialing and re-credentialing medical specialties.”

The majority of ASAM physicians meet these requirements by “working in a chemical dependency treatment facility, taking continuing medical education courses in addiction, or participating in research.”11

“In the United States accredited residency programs in addiction exist only for psychiatrists specializing in addiction psychiatry; nonpsychiatrists seeking training in addiction medicine can train in nonaccredited ‘fellowships,’ or can receive training in some ADP programs, only to not be granted a certificate of completion of accredited training.”11

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Specialty recognition by the American Board of Medical Specialties, fifty Addiction Medicine Fellowship training programs and a National Center for Physician Training in Addiction Medicine are listed as future initiatives of the ABAM Foundation in 2014.

The American Society of Addiction Medicine’s mission is to “establish addiction medicine as a specialty recognized by professional organizations, governments, physicians, purchasers, and consumers of health care products, and the general public’12   

In this they have succeeded.

And in the year 2014 G.V. Stimson’s characterization of the “impaired physician movement” remains as accurate and apt as it was in 1985. But the “number of evangelical recovered alcoholic and addict physicians” has increased dramatically  (outnumbering Addiction Psychiatry by 4:1)  and their involvement in  medical society and treatment programs” has been realized and enforced through the state Physician Health Programs and their “PHP-approved’ assessment and treatment centers.Screen Shot 2014-11-18 at 10.11.55 AM

Their “ability to make authoritative pronouncements on physician impairment…based on their own claim to insider’s knowledge”  has become public policy and sanctified by Regulatory Medicine -essentially the Word of the Lord.

And the 1953 Alcoholics Anonymous prophecy that “With one arm around the shoulder of religion and the other around the shoulder of medicine, we might change the world” is also coming to pass.

But the world is not changing for the better as that arm around the shoulder of religion has its fingers deep in the pockets of the multi-billion dollar drug and alcohol testing and assessment and treatment industries.  And the arm around the shoulder of medicine has its fingers clamped tightly around its throat; a stranglehold in full throttle suffocating the Profession of Medicine with no meaningful opposition I can see.


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  1. Stimson GV. Recent developments in professional control: the impaired physician movement in the USA. Sociology of health & illness. Jul 1985;7(2):141-166.
  2. Four Decades of ASAM. ASAM News. March-April 1994, 1994.
  3. Freed CR. Addiction medicine and addiction psychiatry in America: Commonalities in the medical treatment of addiction. Contemporary Drug Problems. 2010;37(1):139-163.
  4. . American Medical Society on Alcoholism & Other Drug Dependencies Newsletter. Vol III. New York, NY: AMSAODD; 1988:12.
  5. Ursery S. $1.3M verdict coaxes a deal for doctor’s coerced rehab. Fulton County Daily Report. May 12, 1999b 1999.
  6. . AMSAODD News. Vol III. New York, NY: American Medical Society on Alcoholism & Other Drug Dependencies; 1988.
  7. Membership Campaign Update. ASAM News. Vol VIII: American Society of Addiction Medicine; 1993:11.
  8. . ASAM News. Vol 12. Chevy Chase, MD: American Society of Addiction Medicine; 1997:20.
  9. http://www.abam.net/about/history/.
  10. Kunz KB, Gentiello LM. Landmark Recognition for Addiction Medicine: Physician certification by the American Board of Addiction Medicine will Benefit all Addiction Professionals. Addiction Professional. 2009. http://www.addictionpro.com/article/landmark-recognition-addiction-medicine.
  11. Tontchev GV, Housel TR, Callahan JF, Kunz KB, Miller MM, Blondell RD. Specialized training on addictions for physicians in the United States. Substance abuse : official publication of the Association for Medical Education and Research in Substance Abuse. Apr 2011;32(2):84-92.
  12. http://www.asam.org/about-us/mission-and-goals.

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