Guest Post: Dr. Daniel Vande Lune, MD discusses how HCQIA provided immunity is misused by hospitals for sham peer-review

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The Ability for Hospitals to Hide behind the Immunity of HCQIA and the Abuse and Coercion by the PHP: my story and caveats.

I have been asked to write a guest blog and whole heartedly agreed. I am not afraid to tell my story and indeed, I feel that physicians need to know my story, so they don’t become yet another victim. This story really isn’t any different that a lot of other physician’s experiences. I want to be certain it is understood that my story is two-fold; violation of due process, breach of contract, and a sham peer review on the hospital’s part and a myriad of violations including roughshod disregard for civil liberties, committed by the North Carolina Physicians’ Health Program. Unfortunately, most physicians have no idea about many of the legal aspects that surround our careers, nor do they have any idea the power a hospital or PHP can wield.

In 1986, HCQIA (Health Care Quality Improvement Act) passed into law. On the outside, this act looked like a good thing because it tried to reign in escalating medical malpractice cases, and to protect people from those physicians. Quite generally, it allows physicians to be reviewed by their peers without the threat of civil litigation by the physician being reviewed. There are many points that have to be met in order for a peer review organization to stand behind HCQIA and earn its immunity. Again, unfortunately, because of this immunity, doctors can become the victim of a Sham Peer Review.

Lawyer, Gregory Piché, who has experience representing not only physicians but also hospitals in these matters, has written an excellent book, Sham Peer Review: The Power of Immunity and Abuse of Trust. While the book duly notes that it is very hard for physicians to fight back against a perceived sham peer review, it is not impossible. There are a multitude of reasons why a doctor might be targeted, for example, professional jealousy or competition. In the second chapter of his book he outlines 12 signs that you may be a victim of a sham peer review. I won’t enumerate those here but, they are eye opening. In my story, I was able to check off 10 of the 12 warning signs.

So enough background for now, let’s get on with my personal example. In November 2013, I was accused of misbehavior at the outpatient surgery center associated with Johnston Medical Center (Smithfield, North Carolina). Four staff members, who were kept anonymous from me, accused me of throwing an instrument and later that same day, striking a patient. Heinous behavior. I didn’t recall anything special from the day in question, I still stand by my side of the events. The instrument I was accused of throwing was a retractor. We were doing an arthroscopic case and thus no retractors were being used. All I can guess is that when we converted to an open procedure, I may have gently tossed the arthroscopic cannula onto the back table. The second accusation, again most heinous, was in a large man who was having hand surgery under a Bier block with sedation. He repeatedly moved and fidgeted, at one point sitting bolt upright on the operating table. I forcibly grabbed his wrist, still attached to a lead hand, and placed it firmly on the operating table, making a thudding sound. I certainly did not strike this patient, that violates my personal rules of honor and integrity. Skipping way ahead for a moment, I eventually had a Fair Hearing through the hospital’s administrative remedies, at which time only one of the accusers showed up. She was not a credible witness and in the end stated that the others hadn’t witnessed anything visually.

Mind you, these events supposedly took place in November of 2013. I was not made aware of it until December and didn’t go before the MEC until January. This is where it is very important to know the bylaws or to review them should you find yourself in a similar position. Under the bylaws I was to have been notified in writing and provided with details concerning the accusastion. Yet, I received only a phone call and then was not told any details of the accusations. Additionally, as a first time report, this should have gone to the head of the surgery department, not directly to the MEC. It should have been handled internally.  This was the first violation of their bylaws. In North Carolina, failure to follow your bylaws is considered a breach of contract.  From this point on they were violating my rights of due process. Because of the violations of their bylaws, due process, and their breach of contract, they have no right to stand behind the immunity of HCQIA. I wish I knew then what I know now. I should have looked at my bylaws and hired counsel before attending a meeting with the MEC. However, I figured that my explanation would ring true with my “peers.” Another mistake. I did ask about having a lawyer present but I was told that would not be allowed, which is probably true under the bylaws, but certainly is another personal violation of representation.

I presented myself to the MEC and gave my side of the story but I was rebuffed.   They investigated and told me they believed my accusers, the same accusers that DID NOT show up to my fair hearing eight months later. I was told that I would be “voluntarily required,” an oxymoron, to go the North Carolina Physicians’ Health Program to be evaluated. The oxymoron was explained as such: if they made it required, they would have to immediately report me to the NPDB. However, it was not voluntary in that my privileges were threatened if I didn’t attend. As I was planning to move out of North Carolina within six months, I agreed simply to keep the peace and move on without issue. I was given assurances by the Vice President of Medical Affairs that the evaluation would be kept confidential and that if anything came of the visit, it would be recommendations only. I, like many others, had never heard of the PHP before.

Due to scheduling issues, I was unable to be evaluated until late February, meanwhile still practicing and working out of this hospital; I was covering their ER, performing consults, and bringing them surgical cases (revenue). I presented for my evaluation, confirmatory email in hand, only to be told that I didn’t have an appointment that day and would need to reschedule. Fine, although I was convinced that was a test of my patience something that has been confirmed by others. Again, due to scheduling issues, (travel for interviews, death of a friend, and on call requirements), I didn’t get seen until early April. I was eventually accused, by the hospital, that I was purposefully delaying my evaluation. Much to my amazement, upon presenting, I was told that I would have to have a urine drug screen and that I would have to pay for it! This was not mentioned ahead of time, although the receptionist who had erred with my initial appointment, commented that I had been told.  I was also told, by the psychiatrist, that there was no doctor-patient relationship and he could report me to any authorities he saw fit. Despite me signing a release, I feel that without a doctor-patient relationship, he never had the authority to see my subsequent test results. Certainly, an argument can me made about a HIPAA violation on his part. To this point I have had my 5th and 14th Amendment rights violated by the hospital. NCPHP is probably guilty of illegal search and seizure as well as invasion of privacy.

We haven’t even started the evaluation. We began our talk. Not more than 15 minutes into the evaluation, he was trying to strong-arm me in to a contract with the PHP which would follow me to any future state where I might work. I refused, as I had been guaranteed that I was there for recommendations only. I answered all questions voluntarily, wanting to present myself as open and willing, not an “angry person.” I never refused a question, answering some of the most intimate questions possible. During this evaluation, I was never asked the 20 Questions of Johns Hopkins nor the CAGE questions. I was simply asked about consumption of alcohol which I didn’t deny. I have never been accused of coming to work impaired nor have I had any legal issues related to the social use of alcohol.

As the evaluation ended, I was escorted to and joined in the restroom by the psychiatrist, who was present as I provided a sample. Humiliating and violating. I then asked what drugs it tested for; I was told 12 drugs and alcohol. I balked as I had told him that I used alcohol socially. The urine was in his possession and I was told “not to worry about it.” Of course, the test came back positive for ethanol metabolites. As my evaluation was on Friday, the test result was communicated to me on Monday. At this point, the NCPHP recommended to the hospital that I undergo an evaluation for anger management as well as substance abuse. Remember, I had never been accused of impairment and this was a single isolated test. The courses were expensive and out-of-state. I refused anything to do with substance abuse evaluation or monitoring – which required the out-of-state evaluation or six months of draconian monitoring. I was especially concerned about travel restrictions under the monitoring contract as my daughter was getting married back in the Midwest. I was told they couldn’t guarantee that I could travel for her wedding. Obviously, that was a deal breaker.

At this point, I appealed to the hospital, offering to attend local anger counseling for which I would pay and I even offered to undergo urine testing at the hospital. The hospital continued to rebuff my concessions and attempts at coming to an amicable middle-of-the-road solution. I finally hired a lawyer who made it plain that signing a contract with the NCPHP was not a good thing. It was roughly at this time that the State Auditor in North Carolina released her report on the NCPHP. With all of the stories I know, it’s hard to believe that they didn’t find more evidence of malfeasance in reviewing 100 charts. They did find conflict of interest issues and recommended that physicians be allowed to seek their own care. Despite this recommendation, I was not afforded that opportunity. I presented this information to the MEC along with position statements from SAMHSA (they are against use of an isolated positive test and don’t believe the EtG test should be used as the sole forensic test especially when dealing the career of a professional), as well as reports condemning the EtG test (it is not approved by the FDA). Again, I was rebuffed.

In early May, after failing to sign the contract, I was summarily suspended from the hospital. Again, the bylaws were violated as I did not meet any of the definitions for a summary suspension. Why after six months was I suspended summarily? If they were so concerned, I should have been suspended the previous November.   After 30 days, by federal mandate, I was reported to the NPDB and subsequently investigated by the NCMB. I was released from my contract at Duke University. Although my license was never suspended, revoked, or restricted, I have been unable to get even a locums job. I have been rejected by at least three hospitals in Iowa. I’m working towards a Texas license but I’m finding that to be quite difficult. The hospital and PHP have continued to hide behind the veil of immunity. The violations of due process and breach of contract cannot be questioned which eliminates that immunity. The bigger concern is violation of civil liberties committed by both institutions.

Interestingly, the NCMB investigated and asked that I seek another evaluation, for anger management, with a counselor. They gave me a short list of providers in Iowa City, where I had relocated with my family. I went to one visit and she found no issues, other than an adjustment disorder stemming from the way I had been treated. I thought one visit rang hollow, so I pretty much begged the counselor to give me some recommendation. She said I could possibly benefit from a course in communication. Again, from a list of their choosing (the NCMB), I completed an at home course that dealt with communication and anger management.

Meanwhile, the hospital continued to hide behind the recommendations of the NCPHP. They would not back down from that. I eventually was given a Fair Hearing. After three nights of testimony in August and September of 2014, I was vindicated. The panel said that there was not enough evidence to have sent me for an evaluation in the first place, making everything following that moot. One of them has called it a witch hunt; a sham peer review. This decision was remanded by the MEC back to the panel who stuck to their initial decision. However, the MEC refused to overturn my suspension, which is allowed according to the bylaws. An appellate review also fell on deaf ears.

I think this story has many take home points. It never hurts to get a lawyer involved, the earlier the better. I firmly believe that had I involved a lawyer in January of 2014, I may never have had to go for an evaluation at the PHP. Know or review your hospital bylaws if you are ever in any situation with a hospital. Although I was given assurances that only recommendations would be made, the hospital hid behind their HCQIA immunity and the PHP, both entities holding my license/privileges over my head. Get everything in writing. Avoid any PHP, unless you feel you truly need their help, voluntarily. Even then, consider an evaluation by a trusted community colleague. The NCPHP is very typical of these organizations throughout the country, its modus operandi is addiction medicine. They base all of their recommendations on the spiritual 12-step program of alcoholics anonymous and the disproven belief that physicians need more intense treatment, junk science as most people call it. Like most of these institutions, they do not treat patients. They evaluate and refer you to an expensive out-of-state course, where you will most likely be entrapped in a prolonged, never ending contract with the PHP. It has been well documented that if you attend a substance abuse evaluation, you will most likely be labeled an abuser, ending up with 90 days of inpatient treatment. Lastly, be aware of the warning signs of a sham peer review, especially if you are just starting in a new position. Physicians are proud and territorial and they are not always “their brother’s keeper.”

I continue to fight for my professional career but the road blocks are enormous. Finding a lawyer to file suit, on a contingency basis, has also been impossible. As physicians, we need to stand up to these inequities. We need to support each other and contemplate the future when we may need to band together in a class action lawsuit. Maybe it’s time the ACLU becomes truly involved and excited about this opportunity.

Daniel Vande Lune, M.D.

 

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Request that Massachusetts Medical Society acknowledge or refute professional, ethical and criminal misconduct by Physician Health Services (PHS, Inc.)

Oliver Wendell Holmes, the Massachusetts Medical Society, Tinsel Erudition and Pretended Science Redux

images-10As the oldest medical society in the United States the Massachusetts Medical Society can count some of the greatest minds in the history of American medicine as members.  My how far we have fallen.  This same author has previously unintelligibly compared the field of medicine to Barbra Streisand’s face and shamelessly and opportunistically blamed the Boston Marathon bombing on “marijuana withdrawal.” 
The sophomoric mnemonics are neither clever nor illuminating.  Unworthy of  Readers Digest circa 1957, this dumbing down of doctors needs to end.  The very soul and practice  of medicine is being castrated and lobotomized by the same dull and very very blunt instrument. 
How does one reconcile the fact that the very same medical society that publishes the New England Journal of Medicine is allowing this type of tripe and rabble to get past editorial review?  In 1969, through an act of the state legislature, the Massachusetts Medical Society updated its mission to read:
“The purposes of the Massachusetts Medical Society shall be to do all things as may be necessary and appropriate to advance medical knowledge, to develop and maintain the highest professional and ethical standards of medical practice and health care, and to promote medical institutions formed on liberal principles for the health, benefit and welfare of citizens of the commonwealth.”
With a foundation and history built and based on of scholarship and critical thought we need to support the highest levels of science, fact, intelligence and reason.  Stupidity tries but it should not win.  Before the Boston Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge in 1842, Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes delivered two long lectures entitled “Homeopathy and Its Kindred Delusions.” He characterized one of its popular practitioners, Dr. Robert Wesselhoeft, as one of those:  
“Emperics [quacks], ignorant barbers, and men of that sort…who announce themselves ready to relinquish all the accumulated treasure of our art, to trifle with life upon the strength of these fantastic theories.” That “pretended science” as Holmes called it, was “a mingled mass of perverse ingenuity, of tinsel erudition, of imbecile credulity, and artful misrepresentation, too often mingled in practice…with heartless and shameless imposition.”
And Holmes words are as apt and appropriate today as they were in mid 19th Century Boston!   Probably more so. History has recurrently proved that false constructs and groundless concepts allow for endless error. The Massachusetts Medical Society and all of its members need to come to the realization that Physician Health Services (PHS) has paradoxically become a reservoir of bad medicine beset by corruption. The documentary evidence of  professional, ethical and legal misconduct must be specifically and precisely addressed.


Accountability. Answerability and Justification Required. 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 called 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 doctors of academic integrity and moral compass.  Those not conforming to groupthink were threatened with litigation if they breached “peer-review” statutes or confidentiality agreements and this has effectively silenced many from reporting misconduct, abuse or even crimes they may have witnessed.


Massachusetts PHP engaging in Procedural, Ethical and Criminal Misconduct 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 otherwise—tailor its diagnosis and recommendations in a way that will support the PHP’s impression of that physician.”  So too will the clinical laboratories.  Of course “tailoring” a diagnosis to support anything other than the real diagnosis is fraud.    The “PHP-approved” assessment centers are willing to fabricate and misrepresent neuropsychological and cognitive testing to support “denial” and “cognitive-impairment.”   Detailed examples can be seen here and here.  The evidence is clear that past medical director Dr. Luis Sanchez and Director of operations Linda Bresnahan have engaged in not only unethical but criminal activity. Egregious misconduct including forensic fraud and political abuse of psychiatry can be seen in detail here, here and here. This type of inverse morality is antithetical to the history and organizational purpose of not only the MMS but the entire Profession of Medicine.  Institutional injustice can have grave and far reaching consequences.   Increasing reports suggest that programs just like PHS are contributing to the suicide epidemic in doctors.  The patterns are the same and the same scaffold is being used.  PHPs are colluding with the same drug-testing companies and “PHP-approved” assessment facilities.  It is, in fact, a rigged game.


Sunshine is the best disinfectant. Very few doctors are speaking out. Most are vey afraid and remain silent.Few have obtained documentary evidence of misconduct. I have. To ignore the problem or suggest that it does not exist will only cause more damage to other doctors. The suicides will continue.  Nothing will change.  The majority of Massachusetts Medical Society members (as are the majority of doctors) are honest, thoughtful and responsible. Most are completely unaware of the ethical and criminal allegations concerning PHS. This is, after all, a system that depends on secrecy and silence. Most doctors are also probably unaware that the MMS has no regulatory, supervisory or investigatory oversight of PHS.  They have removed themselves from scrutiny by design.  The only avenue of complaint, I have been told, is by filing an ethical complaint with the MMS grievance committee and that any investigation is private, non-disciplinary, and final.   This is irrespective of the severity and scope of the complaint.   What this means is that any complaint against a member of PHS is behind closed doors, if the complaint is substantiated it results in “education” not “discipline,” and the decision cannot be further addressed, appealed or revisited.

Moreover, I have been hearing that ethics and grievance committees in many states have been intentionally populated by PHP apologists, supporters and friends.  As with the other “point-people” they have positioned at medical boards, public health departments and law enforcement, these friends of like-mind are used to deflect, block, delay, suppress and minimize valid complaints.   I do not know if this is the case in Massachusetts.   However, the bottom line is that only two results are possible from any complaint 1) complaint dismissed–final answer, or 2) complaint substantiated–member educated on matter-final answer.  Although this system  may be applicable to some of the common ethical conundrums encountered in the medical profession it is not applicable to criminal activity and fraud.

The character of those involved in PHS can be seen in my post “Integrity and Accountability the Declining State of Physician Health and the Urgent  Need for Ethical and Evidence Based Leadership.”    Wayne Gavryck’s moral compass and adherence to professional and ethical standards can be seen here.  My request is simple, straightforward and should be easy to answer.   So to any of the  apologists, supporters or defenders of PHS I have a simple request.  Just answer the questions here.   No reframing the question, moving the goalpost or redirecting the focus.  Just register and respond. Simple request and litmus test.  Ascertain or refute what you see.  Can the actions of actions of Dr. Luis Sanchez, Dr. Wayne Gavryck or Linda Bresnahan procedurally, ethically or legally.  Yes or No.


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Accountability Requires Answerability and Justification for Actions. Accountability 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.  State PHPs such as PHS have not only removed answerability and justification but have taken steps to prevent any interference by outside actors including medical societies, medical boards, law enforcement and departments of public health. The most crucial step in solving any problem is admitting it exists. This exists.  There is a solution to this.  Sunshine is the best disinfectant.    If the actions of Sanchez, Gavryck and Bresnahan cannot be justified or defended then it must be concluded that these individuals have violated procedure, ethics and the law.  And if that is the case it is the responsibility of the MMS to acknowledge the individual and specific issues as well as the reality that there is no current avenue to address these issues.   That, in and of itself, is a problem. The documents show significant and severe wrongdoing that constitute crimes committed within the walls of MMS.   How far down would the moral compass have to go before the significance of this is recognized?   This necessitates acknowledging the  problem exists, defining the problem and addressing it directly.


Zero-Tolerance for Forensic Fraud and Political Abuse of Psychiatry Necessary. Any and all forensic fraud should be met with Zero-tolerance. State PHPs are colluding  with commercial drug testing labs and “PHP-approved” assessment and treatment centers this same scaffold is being used in many states. Doctors are dying because of it.  State Physician Health Programs (PHPs) are organized under the Federation of State Physician Health Programs (FSPHP). The FSPHP arose from the American Society of Addiction Medicine and the history can be seen here.

Dr. Luis Sanchez is past President and Linda Bresnahan is the current Secretary.   The FSPHP does not represent doctors but the multibillion dollar drug and alcohol testing, assessment and treatment industry.  This will all come out in due time.   The states of North Carolina and Michigan have taken the lead in starting to expose this. Others will follow.   State Auditor Suzanne Bump is currently looking into a Massachusetts Audit of PHS.  But because of the scope and severity of the forensic and rehab fraud it is morally imperative that the MMS address this.   Those engaging in forensic fraud must be removed.  This needs to be done state by state and I am providing Massachusetts with documentary proof.of forensic fraud.  This is not isolated but systemic.  There are plenty of doctors of intellectual and moral integrity to take the place of those who do not. The criminal and ethical violations shown do not comport with any codes of conduct including those of the medical society.    It is paradoxical here that in my battle against PHS that I am the one supporting truth and fact,medical and  professional ethics, evidence-based medicine and physician rights.   It is I who am fighting for the preservation of and adherence to historical ideals and moral codes of the medical profession.   This is easily seen by looking at rhetoric versus actions and deeds. Those of Sanchez, Gavryck and Bresnahan are irreconcilable.  As the oldest medical society in the United States whose stated purpose is to “…do all things as may be necessary and appropriate to advance medical knowledge, to develop and maintain the highest professional and ethical standards of medical practice and health care, and to promote medical institutions formed on liberal principles for the health, benefit and welfare of citizens of the commonwealth” it is morally imperative that the  Massachusetts Medical Society address this urgently, directly and with full-measure.  Massachusetts needs to take the lead in exposing this national problem.

-Michael Langan, M..D.

An Open Letter to Senator Elizabeth Warren Regarding Laboratory Developed Tests, Physician Health Programs and Institutional Injustice

An Open Letter to Senator Elizabeth Warren Regarding Laboratory Developed Tests, Physician Health Programs and Institutional Injustice.

I can think of nothing more institutionally unjust than an unregulated zero-tolerance monitoring program with no oversight using unregulated drug and alcohol testing of unknown validity.   But that is what is occurring.   Some of us are trying to expose this corrupt system but barriers exist. As with the Laboratory Developed Tests (LDTs), those involved have intentionally taken steps to remove both answerability and accountability.  Both the tests and the body of individuals administering these tests are notable for their lack of transparency, oversight and regulation.  This renders them a power unto themselves.

Doctors (and others coerced into Professional Health Programs) across the country have reported going to law enforcement and state agencies only to be turned away.   The Federation of State Physician Health Programs (FSPHP)  has convinced these outside agencies that this is a “parochial” issue best handled by the medical profession..   Those reporting crimes are turned back over to the very people committing the crimes.

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—There is no place in science for consensus or opinion, only evidence.-Claude Bernard

Dear Senator Warren,

Thank you for your reply regarding laboratory developed tests (LDTs) and the need for regulatory oversight.   As you mention, LDTs are developed without FDA approval—a pathway in which is not even necessary to prove validity of a test (that it is actually testing what it claims to be testing for) to bring it to market. With no FDA oversight or regulation a commercial lab can claim any validity they want in marketing these tests. The regulation debate has focused on the reliability and validity of a number of clinical tests marketed with unverified claims of accuracy such as prenatal screening and Lyme disease and this lack of oversight is a direct threat to patient safety.

I am sure you would agree with me that the importance of tests diagnostic accuracy is directly proportional to its potential to cause patient harm if reported inaccurately. Sensitivity and specificity are important components of any diagnostic test as there are consequences associated with both false-positive and false negative results.

A test falsely indicating the absence of a condition in someone who truly has it can delay or prevent needed treatment wile a test falsely indicating the presence of a condition in someone who does not truly have it can result in unnecessary testing and treatment.

Incorrect treatment and false labeling of patients can also occur. Therefore diagnostic accuracy is paramount if a test is being used as the basis for further tests and treatment. Any test being used as a basis for further tests or treatment needs to be accurate. It needs to be reliable and valid. Moreover, if the consequences of a test can result in significant patient harm (such as unneeded chemotherapy) it needs to be either 100% accurate or be combined with other tests to confirm the true diagnosis.

 “Forensic” vs. “Clinical” Laboratory Testing

“Forensic” testing differs from “clinical” testing because of the consequences and the process is tightly controlled because false-positive results are unacceptable as the consequences can be grave, far-reaching and even permanent.

Forensic testing demands special handling and safeguards to protect the donor such as validated tests, certified labs, strict chain-of-custody procedures and MRO (Medical Review Officer) review. These safeguards of quality control assure the validity and integrity of the specimen.   The LDT pathway was not designed for forensic tests.

Forensic Laboratory Developed Tests (LDTs)

 Paradoxically, laboratory developed tests with the potential to cause  life-changing and possibly irreparable harm have been absent from the regulatory debate; LDT drug and alcohol tests used for “forensic” monitoring purposes.

A panoply of tests using urine, blood, hair, fingernails breath and saliva have been developed and brought to market since 2003 when the first one was introduced by Gregory Skipper, then Medical Director of the Alabama Physicians Health Program, who “convinced the initial lab in the USA, NMS near Philadelphia to start performing EtG testing.” 1

Developed as an LDT, Skipper and NMS then claimed the alcohol biomarker (which was discovered in the 1950s) “appeared to be 100 percent specific” in detecting covert use of alcohol based on a study he coauthored that involved a mere 35 forensic psychiatric inpatients in Germany, all male. 2   With this “evidence-base” and a not yet published paper in the pipeline,3   Skipper then pitched the test to the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) as an accurate and reliable tool detect covert alcohol use in health care professionals.

Policy Entrepreneurship

In  “Agendas, Alternatives, and Public Policies,”4 John W. Kingdon describes the problem, policy and political streams involved in public policy making.   When these three streams come together a specific problem becomes important on the agenda, policies matching the problem get attention, and then policy change becomes possible.

Kingdon also describes “policy entrepreneurs’ who use their knowledge of the process to further their own policy ends. They ‘lie in wait… with their solutions at hand, waiting for problems to float by to which they can attach their solutions, waiting for a development in the political stream they can use to their advantage.”4

And due to a perfect confluence of streams ( Institute of Medicine report that 44,000 people die each year due to medical error,5 media reports of “impaired physicians,”  the the war-on-drugs, etc.)  the FSMB was swayed into accepting not just the validity but the necessity of using an alcohol biomarker of unknown reliability and validity on doctors referred to or monitored by state Physician Health Programs (PHPs) .

As the national organization that gives guidance to state medical boards through public policy development and recommendations, the individual state medical boards adopted use of the test without critical appraisal and no meaningful opposition.

Shortly after its founding in 1912, the FSMB began publishing a  journal called the Quarterly of the Federation of State Boards of the United States. Now known as the Journal of Medical Regulation, the publication has archived all issues with full articles dating back to 1967 and, as the official journal of the national organization involved in  medical licensing and regulation this facilitates an unskewed and impartial examination of how and when specific issues and problems were presented and who presented them and, in doing so, the “policy entrepreneurship” Kingdon describes can be seen quite clearly. For example a 1995 issue containing articles written by the program directors of PHPs in 8 different states contains an FSMB editorial acknowledging the reported 90% success rate claimed of these programs (in part attributed to the 90-day inpatient treatment programs) that concludes:

“Cooperation and communication between the medical boards and the physician health programs must occur in an effort to protect the public while assisting impaired physicians in their recovery.” 6

No one bothered to examine the methodology of these reports to discern the validity of the claims and it is this acceptance of faith without objective assessment that has allowed the passage of flawed public policy in medical regulation.

Nowhere  is “policy entrepreneurship” more glaringly displayed as it is in a 2004 issue promoting the use of EtG in monitoring doctors as under the same cover is an article identifying both the need7 for such a test and an article providing the solution.8  

“Detection of Alcohol Use in Monitored Aftercare Programs: A National Survey of State Physician Health Programs,” a survey of state Physician Health Programs (PHPs) concludes that “surreptitious alcohol use” is a significant concern” for PHPs, there is no current  “best method” for detection,  but a promising new test  with “exceptional specificity (100 percent) and sensitivity” in detecting small amounts of alcohol for up to 18 hours has recently become available.7

This same issue contains an article authored by Skipper about a new marker “not detectable unless alcohol has been consumed” recently introduced in the United States and now commercially available.”8

Notably absent from both of these articles is Skipper’s role in the commercial availability of the test. This conflict-of-interest is nowhere mentioned in this display of “creating a market then filling it.”

This “regulatory sanctification” of the test implied its tacit approval by the medical profession  (i.e. “if they are using it on doctors it must be valid”) and facilitated its marketing  to other monitoring agencies (nurses, airline pilots) as well as  Courts and Probation Departments where those doing the monitoring had absolute power while those being monitored had no voice.

Bent Science

In Bending Science: How Special Interests Corrupt Public Health Research9Thomas McGarity and Wendy Wagner describe how special interest groups scheme to advance their own economic or ideological goals by using carefully crafted distorted or “bent” science to influence legal, regulatory and public health policy.  The authors describe how those making these decisions often assume the information that reaches them has been sufficiently vetted by the scientific community as it flows through a pipeline of rigorous peer-review and professional oversight and that the final product that exits the pipeline is unbiased and produced in accordance with the norms and procedures of science.

McGarity and Wagner note the serious and sometimes horrific consequences of bent science and provide examples involving Tobacco and Big Pharma . The authors call for:

“..immediate action to reduce the role that bent science plays in regulatory and judicial decision making” and the need for the scientific community to be involved in “designing and implementing reform.”

“Shedding even a little light on how advocates bend policy -relevant science could go a long way toward remedying these problems.  Indeed, precisely because the advocates have overtaken the law in this area, heightened attention to the social costs of bending science could itself precipitate significant change.”

In the case of EtG this shedding of light is not very hard as no “carefully crafted” studies bending science were used to sway opinion.   None existed. The only items in the pipeline were directly related to Skipper.  If anyone dare to look, the Emperor has no clothes.

Lack of Answerability and Accountability

There are difficulties in challenging bent science including a general lack of recognition of the problem and an absence of counter-studies to oppose deliberately manufactured ends-oriented research.   This has proven true with the myriad LDTs introduced into the marketplace as no counter-forces or competing economic interests producing counter-studies exist.

Multiple lawsuits, including a class-action, have been decided in favor of the labs who have taken a stand-your-ground approach supported by a body of industry-related “research” they or their affiliates produced to support the validity and reliability of the tests.

Those affected by these tests either have no power or have had their power removed. Most do not have the resources to mount a defense let alone produce counter-studies questioning the reliability and validity of the tests.

Most employee drug testing follows Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) guidelines using FDA-approved tests that have specific cutoff levels defining a positive-result in an effort to eliminate false-positive results.10  Procedural safeguards are in place in these programs to protect the donor.  Forensic testing programs using LDTs provide no such safeguards as the testing is unregulated and there is no oversight from outside actors.

Unlike clinical LDTs “forensic” LDTs are even exempt from CLIA oversight.   The only avenue for complaint is through the College of American Pathologists (CAP) and, as an accrediting agency, they can only address problems by ensuring compliance with CAP guidelines.   If an investigation concludes lab error or misconduct CAP can mandate the lab correct the test result and come into compliance with their guidelines under threat of loss of accreditation but no other consequences exist.  Accountability has been removed yet the  consequences to those harmed by these are significant and without remedy.

State Physician Health Programs

As is the case with the LDTs  they introduced, Physician Health Programs have no oversight or regulation.   A 2013 Audit of the North Carolina PHP 11 prompted by complaints from doctors and performed by State Auditor Beth Woods found absolutely no oversight of the program by either the state medical board or medical society and that “abuse could occur without being detected.”

The Audit also found that doctors were predominantly referred to the same “PHP-approved” out-of-state facilities to which they in part attribute their high success rates in treatment. Interestingly the PHP could not identify what quality indicators or quantitative measurements were used by the PHP to “approve” the “PHP-approved” facilities.

In January of 2015 a Federal class action lawsuit was filed in the Eastern District of Michigan against the state PHP program and found health care providers were subject to the same referral system using these out-of-state facilities. The suit alleges constitutional violations related to the forced medical treatment of health care professionals and the “callous and reckless termination of professional licenses without due process.” 12

As with North Carolina, the Michigan PHP will be unable to provide what quality indicators and quantitative measurements are being used to “qualify” and “approve these facilities.    None exist. The sole indicators for approving these assessment centers are ideological and economic. In fact, the medical directors of most, if not all, of these facilities can be seen on this list of “like-minded docs.” 

Institutional Injustice

You once said “People feel like the system is rigged against them. And here’s the painful part: they’re right. The system is rigged.”

So too is this system.

As the Michigan lawsuit notes: “Unfortunately, a once well-meaning program has turned into a highly punitive and involuntary program where health professionals are forced into extensive and unnecessary substance abuse/dependence treatment under the threat of the arbitrary application of pre-hearing deprivations.”

This has become the rule not the exception. The Federation of State Physician Health Programs (FSPHP), the same group to which Dr. Skipper belongs, has systematically taken over these programs state by state by removing competent and caring doctors not agreeing with the groupthink and silenced them under threat of litigation if they violate their confidentiality agreements and “peer review” statutes.

The same system of coercion, control and abuse exists in Massachusetts.  In the past week alone I have heard from a medical student, a resident and two doctors who complained of misconduct  misconduct involving fraudulent testing and falsified diagnoses.

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

“Because PHP practices are unknown to most physicians before becoming a client of the PHP, many PHPs operate out- side the scrutiny of the medical community at large. Physicians referred to PHPs are often compromised to some degree, have very little power, and are, therefore, not in a position to voice what might be legitimate objections to a PHP’s practices.”13

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

Knight and Boyd recommend “the broader medical community begin to reassess PHP’s as a whole” and that “consideration be given toward the implementation of independent ethical oversight and establish and appeals process for PHP clients who feel they are being treated unfairly.” 13

They recommend the relationship between PHP’s and the evaluation and treatment centers and licensing boards be transparent and that national standards be developed “that can be debated by all physicians, not just those who work within PHPs.”13

Accountability, or answerability, is necessary to prevent corruption.  This requires both the provision of information and justification for actions.    What was done and why? Accountability also requires that consequences be imposed on those who engage in misconduct.

In discussing the financial conflicts-of-interest between PHPs and “PHP-approved” assessment centers Knight and Boyd state:

“..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.”  

To “consciously tailor a diagnosis” is fraud. It is political abuse of psychiatry. And it is not only the assessment and treatment centers willing to “tailor” a diagnosis; so too are the labs involved.

Physician Suicide

I can think of nothing more institutionally unjust than an unregulated zero-tolerance monitoring program with no oversight using unregulated drug and alcohol testing of unknown validity.   But that is what is occurring.   Some of us are trying to expose this corrupt system but barriers exist. As with the Laboratory Developed Tests (LDTs), those involved have intentionally taken steps to remove both answerability and accountability.  Both the tests and the body of individuals administering these tests are notable for their lack of transparency, oversight and regulation.  This renders them a power unto themselves.

Doctors (and others coerced into Professional Health Programs) across the country have reported going to law enforcement and state agencies only to be turned away.   The Federation of State Physician Health Programs (FSPHP)  has convinced these outside agencies that this is a “parochial” issue best handled by the medical profession..   Those reporting crimes are turned back over to the very people committing the crimes.

The Massachusetts Medical Society and Massachusetts DPH claim no oversight of the Massachusetts PHP, PHS.inc. The Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine (BORM) will not address ethical or even criminal complaints about the doctors involved in the PHP and there is good evidence that some members of the BORM are in fact complicit in unethical and even criminal behavior. As the Massachusetts AGO represents the BORM they defer issues back to them and dig no deeper.

Drs. Knight and Boyd have suggested State Audits and we are hoping that MA State Auditor Suzanne Bump will investigate the MA PHP and the Board of Registration in Medicine’s Physician Health and Compliance Unit shortly.

One major problem is that barriers have been put in place to prevent information from getting to the right people.

The majority of people at medical societies, boards, departments of public health and other organizations are individuals of integrity and honesty but the system has been erected so that valid complaints are deflected, delayed, dismissed or otherwise tabled by sympathizers, apologists and those complicity.   The criminal activity the Massachusetts PHP is engaging in is undeniable and indefensible but who is going to hold them to account?

It is going to take a while to reform this system of institutional abuse and it has to be done state by state. Please take a look at the facts and documentary evidence and help me hold them accountable. This needs to be exposed, acknowledged and addressed.   Doctors are dying from this system of institutional abuse. It is a public health emergency no one is talking about.  Yet those behind the PHP programs are claiming this system of coercion, abuse and control is the “gold standard” of addiction treatment and, using another loophole, they want to expand this system to mainstream healthcare.

Sincerely,

Michael L. Langan, M.D.

  1. Skipper G. Exploring the Reliability, Frequency, and Methods of Drug Testing: What is Enough to Ensure Compliance?:   Alcohol Markers and Devices. 2013; http://www.fsphp.org/Skipper, Exploring the Reliability Frequency and Methods 2 Presentation.pdf.
  2. Wurst FM, Vogel R, Jachau K, et al. Ethyl glucuronide discloses recent covert alcohol use not detected by standard testing in forensic psychiatric inpatients. Alcoholism, clinical and experimental research. Mar 2003;27(3):471-476.
  3. Skipper GE, Weinmann W, Thierauf A, et al. Ethyl glucuronide: a biomarker to identify alcohol use by health professionals recovering from substance use disorders. Alcohol Alcohol. Sep-Oct 2004;39(5):445-449.
  4. Kingdon JW. Agendas, alternatives, and public policies. Updated 2nd ed. Boston: Longman; 2011.
  5. Leape LL. Institute of Medicine medical error figures are not exaggerated. JAMA : the journal of the American Medical Association. Jul 5 2000;284(1):95-97.
  6. Schneidman B. The Philosophy of Rehabilitation for Impaired Physicians. The Federal Bulletin: The Journal of Medical Licensure and Discipline. 1995;82(3):125-127.
  7. Jansen M, Bell LB, Sucher MA, Stoehr JD. Detection of Alcohol Use in Monitored Aftercare Programs: A National Survey of State Physician Health Programs. Journal of Medical Licensure and Discipline. 2004;90(2):8-13
  8. Skipper G, Weinmann W, Wurst F. Ethylglucuronide (EtG): A New Marker to Detect Alcohol Use in Recovering Physicians. Journal of Medical Licensure and Discipline. 2004;90(2):14-17.
  9. McGarity TO, Wagner WE. Bending Science: How Special Interests Corrupt Public Health Research. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press; 2008.
  10. US Department of Health and Human Services. Mandatory guidelines and proposed revisions to mandatory guidelines for federal workplace drug testing programs: notices.Federal Register. April 13, 2004;69(71):19659-19660.
  11. Wood B. State of North Carolina Performance Audit North Carolina Physicians Health Program. . http://www.ncauditor.net/EPSWeb/Reports/Performance/PER-2013-8141.pdf. Accessed March 17, 2015.
  12. U.S. District Court Eastern District of Michigan, Case No: 2:15-cv-10337-AJT-RSW (2015). Carole Lucas, R.N., Tara Vialpandno, R.N., Scott Sanders, R.N., Kelly Schultz, P.A., and all other similarly situated health professionals v. Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, Carole Engel, J.D.Former Director of Michigan Bureau of Health Professions, Ulliance, Inc. (State Contractor), Carolyn Batchelor (HPRP Contract Administrator), Stephen Batchelor (HPRP Contract Administrator), and Nikki Jones, LMSW.   Filed January 30, 2015.
  13. Boyd JW, Knight JR. Ethical and managerial considerations regarding state physician health programs. Journal of addiction medicine. Dec 2012;6(4):243-246.

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Institutional Justice and Quality Disparity in Drug and Alcohol Monitoring–The Contrast Between MBTA Operators and Massachusetts Doctors is Shocking

Safety-Sensitive Occupations 

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In Backfire Step 1: Expose the Injustice–Forensic Fraud being committed by PHPs in Collusion with Corrupt Labs,  I used documentary evidence from my own case to show how the PHPs and labs are engaging in undeniable and indefensible forensic fraud. The documents speak for themselves and it does not take a toxicologist or Medical Review Officer to understand that “Updating” a “chain-of-custody”and adding a new ID # to an already positive test breaches all procedural and professional guidelines, medical and societal ethics and state and federal law.  It exemplifies how PHPs are blocking the “provision of information” required by most substance of abuse testing programs.   Whereas most substance of abuse testing guidelines require not only answerability but “timely” answerability, PHPs use tactics that block and delay such information. These tactics include both refusing to provide the information and dissuading those monitored from requesting it.

In my case it took 5 months to obtain the “litigation packet” (a  documentary record generated on any and all “forensic” drug and alcohol testing that records the “chain-of-custody” from initial collection to final analysis.   The litigation packet I received in December of 2011 from a test collected by Quest Diagnostics can be seen here:  USDTL Litigation Packet.

If you take a look at it you will see that no documentation exists regarding the specimen from when it was collected July 1st, 2011 to when it was reported as positive on July 19th, 2011 by Dr. Luis Sanchez, Medical Director of the Massachusetts PHP, Physician Health services, inc. (PHS).  There is, in fact, absolutely no external chain of custody documenting the collection, handling and transport of the specimen.  This in itself, according to each and every guideline ever published in the history of forensic testing invalidates the test.

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But more importantly, the litigation packet revealed evidence that the reported positive test was not the result of oversight or accident but deliberate and intentional–forensic fraud by fax.  Although this laboratory misconduct and fraud is undeniable and indefensible PHPs have no oversight or regulation.  Neither do the labs.

Most individuals being tested for substances of abuse by employee assistance programs have a union or some other organization protecting their best interests. In the case of a suspected fraudulent or mishandled test these groups facilitate accountability by helping to obtain the information and requesting justification of actions.   No such agencies exist for those being monitored by PHPs.  No avenue of complaint against PHPs exist.  In addition to no FDA oversight, “forensic” LDTs (unlike clinical LDTs) are exempt from Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments of 1988 (CLIA).   The only avenue of complaint against a lab utilizing forensic LDTs is through the College of American Pathologists (CAP). As an accreditation agency, however, they are limited in what they can do as a result of an investigation.  Whether the complaint involves accidental lab error or intentional fraud the only action CAP can take at the conclusion of an investigation is to threaten the lab with loss of accreditation if the lab does not come into compliance with their “Forensic Drug Testing Checklist.”  They can also force the lab to “correct” these tests under threat of loss of accreditation.   This is what CAP did in my case which brings us to  Backfire Step 3: Reframe: emphasize the injustice, counter reinterpretation.

Drug testing that follows mandated guidelines provides procedural safeguards that protect the donor.  .Accountability demands both the provision of information (answerability) and justification for ones actions.   both those administering the tests and those performing the tests are held accountable by outside agencies.   The system is transparent and when the validity or integrity of a test is questioned the employer and lab must provide the records and documentation.

Why are doctors allowing PHPs to use drug and alcohol testing of unknown validity? We require evidence-base and adherence to professional protocol and ethical guidelines in every other arena but this one.   Using the fallacious appeal to authority, however, the impaired physicians movement doctors (FSPHP) convinced regulatory boards that these tests were valid, reliable and necessary. In fact the sensitivity and specificity is unknown so the false-positive rate is unknown. In addition, with no regulation or oversight, positive tests can be the result of deliberate misconduct and, with no agency to sanction those engaging in the misconduct, it can continue unchecked.

It is time we demand better care for our fellow doctors.  It is time we debunk the mythology surrounding the required length of stay in rehabilitation facilities that is three-times longer than anyone else.  There is nothing unique about being a doctor that warrants this.  No evidence base exists.   PHPs need to be reformed and rebuilt as programs of institutional justice.  The current state of affairs is one of coercion, control and abuse.

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An Open Letter to Senator Elizabeth Warren Regarding Laboratory Developed Tests, Physician Health Programs and Institutional Injustice

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—There is no place in science for consensus or opinion, only evidence.-Claude Bernard

Dear Senator Warren,

Thank you for your reply regarding laboratory developed tests (LDTs) and the need for regulatory oversight.   As you mention, LDTs are developed without FDA approval—a pathway in which is not even necessary to prove validity of a test (that it is actually testing what it claims to be testing for) to bring it to market. With no FDA oversight or regulation a commercial lab can claim any validity they want in marketing these tests. The regulation debate has focused on the reliability and validity of a number of clinical tests marketed with unverified claims of accuracy such as prenatal screening and Lyme disease and this lack of oversight is a direct threat to patient safety.

I am sure you would agree with me that the importance of tests diagnostic accuracy is directly proportional to that tests potential to cause patient harm if reported inaccurately.

Sensitivity and specificity are important components of any diagnostic test because there are consequences associated with both false-positive and false negative results.

A test falsely indicating the absence of a condition in someone who truly has it can delay or prevent needed treatment wile a test falsely indicating the presence of a condition in someone who does not truly have it can result in unnecessary testing and treatment.

Incorrect treatment and false labeling of patients can also occur. Therefore diagnostic accuracy is paramount if a test is being used as the basis for further tests and treatment. Any test being used as a basis for further tests or treatment needs to be accurate. It needs to be reliable and valid. Moreover, if the consequences of a test can result in significant patient harm (such as unneeded chemotherapy) it needs to be either 100% accurate or be combined with other tests to confirm the true diagnosis.

 “Forensic” vs. “Clinical” Laboratory Testing

“Forensic” testing differs from “clinical” testing because of the consequences and the process is tightly controlled because false-positive results are unacceptable as the consequences can be grave, far-reaching and even permanent.

Forensic testing demands special handling and safeguards to protect the donor such as validated tests, certified labs, strict chain-of-custody procedures and MRO (Medical Review Officer) review. These safeguards of quality control assure the validity and integrity of the specimen.   The LDT pathway was not designed for forensic tests.

Forensic Laboratory Developed Tests (LDTs)

 Paradoxically, laboratory developed tests with the potential to cause  life-changing and possibly irreparable harm have been absent from the regulatory debate; LDT drug and alcohol tests used for “forensic” monitoring purposes.

A panoply of tests using urine, blood, hair, fingernails breath and saliva have been developed and brought to market since 2003 when the first one was introduced by Gregory Skipper, then Medical Director of the Alabama Physicians Health Program, who “convinced the initial lab in the USA, NMS near Philadelphia to start performing EtG testing.” 1

Developed as an LDT, Skipper and NMS then claimed the alcohol biomarker (which was discovered in the 1950s) “appeared to be 100 percent specific” in detecting covert use of alcohol based on a study he coauthored that involved a mere 35 forensic psychiatric inpatients in Germany, all male. 2   With this “evidence-base” and a not yet published paper in the pipeline,3   Skipper then pitched the test to the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) as an accurate and reliable tool detect covert alcohol use in health care professionals.

Policy Entrepreneurship

In  “Agendas, Alternatives, and Public Policies,”4 John W. Kingdon describes the problem, policy and political streams involved in public policy making.   When these three streams come together a specific problem becomes important on the agenda, policies matching the problem get attention, and then policy change becomes possible.

Kingdon also describes “policy entrepreneurs’ who use their knowledge of the process to further their own policy ends. They ‘lie in wait… with their solutions at hand, waiting for problems to float by to which they can attach their solutions, waiting for a development in the political stream they can use to their advantage.”4

And due to a perfect confluence of streams ( Institute of Medicine report that 44,000 people die each year due to medical error,5 media reports of “impaired physicians,”  the the war-on-drugs, etc.)  the FSMB was swayed into accepting not just the validity but the necessity of using an alcohol biomarker of unknown reliability and validity on doctors referred to or monitored by state Physician Health Programs (PHPs) .

As the national organization that gives guidance to state medical boards through public policy development and recommendations, the individual state medical boards adopted use of the test without critical appraisal and no meaningful opposition.

Shortly after its founding in 1912, the FSMB began publishing a  journal called the Quarterly of the Federation of State Boards of the United States. Now known as the Journal of Medical Regulation, the publication has archived all issues with full articles dating back to 1967 and, as the official journal of the national organization involved in  medical licensing and regulation this facilitates an unskewed and impartial examination of how and when specific issues and problems were presented and who presented them and, in doing so, the “policy entrepreneurship” Kingdon describes can be seen quite clearly. For example a 1995 issue containing articles written by the program directors of PHPs in 8 different states contains an FSMB editorial acknowledging the reported 90% success rate claimed of these programs (in part attributed to the 90-day inpatient treatment programs) that concludes:

“Cooperation and communication between the medical boards and the physician health programs must occur in an effort to protect the public while assisting impaired physicians in their recovery.” 6

No one bothered to examine the methodology of these reports to discern the validity of the claims and it is this acceptance of faith without objective assessment that has allowed the passage of flawed public policy in medical regulation.

Nowhere  is “policy entrepreneurship” more glaringly displayed as it is in a 2004 issue promoting the use of EtG in monitoring doctors as under the same cover is an article identifying both the need7 for such a test and an article providing the solution.8  

“Detection of Alcohol Use in Monitored Aftercare Programs: A National Survey of State Physician Health Programs,” a survey of state Physician Health Programs (PHPs) concludes that “surreptitious alcohol use” is a significant concern” for PHPs, there is no current  “best method” for detection,  but a promising new test  with “exceptional specificity (100 percent) and sensitivity” in detecting small amounts of alcohol for up to 18 hours has recently become available.7

This same issue contains an article authored by Skipper about a new marker “not detectable unless alcohol has been consumed” recently introduced in the United States and now commercially available.”8

Notably absent from both of these articles is Skipper’s role in the commercial availability of the test. This conflict-of-interest is nowhere mentioned in this display of “creating a market then filling it.”

This “regulatory sanctification” of the test implied its tacit approval by the medical profession  (i.e. “if they are using it on doctors it must be valid”) and facilitated its marketing  to other monitoring agencies (nurses, airline pilots) as well as  Courts and Probation Departments where those doing the monitoring had absolute power while those being monitored had no voice.

Bent Science

In Bending Science: How Special Interests Corrupt Public Health Research9, Thomas McGarity and Wendy Wagner describe how special interest groups scheme to advance their own economic or ideological goals by using carefully crafted distorted or “bent” science to influence legal, regulatory and public health policy.  The authors describe how those making these decisions often assume the information that reaches them has been sufficiently vetted by the scientific community as it flows through a pipeline of rigorous peer-review and professional oversight and that the final product that exits the pipeline is unbiased and produced in accordance with the norms and procedures of science.

McGarity and Wagner note the serious and sometimes horrific consequences of bent science and provide examples involving Tobacco and Big Pharma . The authors call for:

“..immediate action to reduce the role that bent science plays in regulatory and judicial decision making” and the need for the scientific community to be involved in “designing and implementing reform.”

“Shedding even a little light on how advocates bend policy -relevant science could go a long way toward remedying these problems.  Indeed, precisely because the advocates have overtaken the law in this area, heightened attention to the social costs of bending science could itself precipitate significant change.”

In the case of EtG this shedding of light is not very hard as no “carefully crafted” studies bending science were used to sway opinion.   None existed. The only items in the pipeline were directly related to Skipper.  If anyone dare to look, the Emperor has no clothes.

Lack of Answerability and Accountability

There are difficulties in challenging bent science including a general lack of recognition of the problem and an absence of counter-studies to oppose deliberately manufactured ends-oriented research.   This has proven true with the myriad LDTs introduced into the marketplace as no counter-forces or competing economic interests producing counter-studies exist.

Multiple lawsuits, including a class-action, have been decided in favor of the labs who have taken a stand-your-ground approach supported by a body of industry-related “research” they or their affiliates produced to support the validity and reliability of the tests.

Those affected by these tests either have no power or have had their power removed. Most do not have the resources to mount a defense let alone produce counter-studies questioning the reliability and validity of the tests.

Most employee drug testing follows Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) guidelines using FDA-approved tests that have specific cutoff levels defining a positive-result in an effort to eliminate false-positive results.10  Procedural safeguards are in place in these programs to protect the donor.  Forensic testing programs using LDTs provide no such safeguards as the testing is unregulated and there is no oversight from outside actors.

Unlike clinical LDTs “forensic” LDTs are even exempt from CLIA oversight.   The only avenue for complaint is through the College of American Pathologists (CAP) and, as an accrediting agency, they can only address problems by ensuring compliance with CAP guidelines.   If an investigation concludes lab error or misconduct CAP can mandate the lab correct the test result and come into compliance with their guidelines under threat of loss of accreditation but no other consequences exist.  Accountability has been removed yet the  consequences to those harmed by these are significant and without remedy.

State Physician Health Programs

As is the case with the LDTs  they introduced, Physician Health Programs have no oversight or regulation.   A 2013 Audit of the North Carolina PHP 11 prompted by complaints from doctors and performed by State Auditor Beth Woods found absolutely no oversight of the program by either the state medical board or medical society and that “abuse could occur without being detected.”

The Audit also found that doctors were predominantly referred to the same “PHP-approved” out-of-state facilities to which they in part attribute their high success rates in treatment. Interestingly the PHP could not identify what quality indicators or quantitative measurements were used by the PHP to “approve” the “PHP-approved” facilities.

In January of 2015 a Federal class action lawsuit was filed in the Eastern District of Michigan against the state PHP program and found health care providers were subject to the same referral system using these out-of-state facilities. The suit alleges constitutional violations related to the forced medical treatment of health care professionals and the “callous and reckless termination of professional licenses without due process.” 12

As with North Carolina, the Michigan PHP will be unable to provide what quality indicators and quantitative measurements are being used to “qualify” and “approve these facilities.    None exist. The sole indicators for approving these assessment centers are ideological and economic. In fact, the medical directors of most, if not all, of these facilities can be seen on this list of “like-minded docs.” 

Institutional Injustice

You once said “People feel like the system is rigged against them. And here’s the painful part: they’re right. The system is rigged.”

So too is this system.

As the Michigan lawsuit notes: “Unfortunately, a once well-meaning program has turned into a highly punitive and involuntary program where health professionals are forced into extensive and unnecessary substance abuse/dependence treatment under the threat of the arbitrary application of pre-hearing deprivations.”

This has become the rule not the exception. The Federation of State Physician Health Programs (FSPHP), the same group to which Dr. Skipper belongs, has systematically taken over these programs state by state by removing competent and caring doctors not agreeing with the groupthink and silenced them under threat of litigation if they violate their confidentiality agreements and “peer review” statutes.

The same system of coercion, control and abuse exists in Massachusetts.  In the past week alone I have heard from a medical student, a resident and two doctors who complained of misconduct  misconduct involving fraudulent testing and falsified diagnoses.

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

“Because PHP practices are unknown to most physicians before becoming a client of the PHP, many PHPs operate out- side the scrutiny of the medical community at large. Physicians referred to PHPs are often compromised to some degree, have very little power, and are, therefore, not in a position to voice what might be legitimate objections to a PHP’s practices.”13

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

Knight and Boyd recommend “the broader medical community begin to reassess PHP’s as a whole” and that “consideration be given toward the implementation of independent ethical oversight and establish and appeals process for PHP clients who feel they are being treated unfairly.” 13

They recommend the relationship between PHP’s and the evaluation and treatment centers and licensing boards be transparent and that national standards be developed “that can be debated by all physicians, not just those who work within PHPs.”13

Accountability, or answerability, is necessary to prevent corruption.  This requires both the provision of information and justification for actions.    What was done and why? Accountability also requires that consequences be imposed on those who engage in misconduct.

In discussing the financial conflicts-of-interest between PHPs and “PHP-approved” assessment centers Knight and Boyd state:

“..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.”  

To “consciously tailor a diagnosis” is fraud. It is political abuse of psychiatry. And it is not only the assessment and treatment centers willing to “tailor” a diagnosis; so too are the labs involved.

Physician Suicide

I can think of nothing more institutionally unjust than an unregulated zero-tolerance monitoring program with no oversight using unregulated drug and alcohol testing of unknown validity.   But that is what is occurring.   Some of us are trying to expose this corrupt system but barriers exist. As with the Laboratory Developed Tests (LDTs), those involved have intentionally taken steps to remove both answerability and accountability.  Both the tests and the body of individuals administering these tests are notable for their lack of transparency, oversight and regulation.  This renders them a power unto themselves.

Doctors (and others coerced into Professional Health Programs) across the country have reported going to law enforcement and state agencies only to be turned away.   The Federation of State Physician Health Programs (FSPHP)  has convinced these outside agencies that this is a “parochial” issue best handled by the medical profession..   Those reporting crimes are turned back over to the very people committing the crimes.

The Massachusetts Medical Society and Massachusetts DPH claim no oversight of the Massachusetts PHP, PHS.inc. The Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine (BORM) will not address ethical or even criminal complaints about the doctors involved in the PHP and there is good evidence that some members of the BORM are in fact complicit in unethical and even criminal behavior. As the Massachusetts AGO represents the BORM they defer issues back to them and dig no deeper.

Drs. Knight and Boyd have suggested State Audits and we are hoping that MA State Auditor Suzanne Bump will investigate the MA PHP and the Board of Registration in Medicine’s Physician Health and Compliance Unit shortly.

One major problem is that barriers have been put in place to prevent information from getting to the right people.

The majority of people at medical societies, boards, departments of public health and other organizations are individuals of integrity and honesty but the system has been erected so that valid complaints are deflected, delayed, dismissed or otherwise tabled by sympathizers, apologists and those complicity.   The criminal activity the Massachusetts PHP is engaging in is undeniable and indefensible but who is going to hold them to account?

It is going to take a while to reform this system of institutional abuse and it has to be done state by state. Please take a look at the facts and documentary evidence and help me hold them accountable. This needs to be exposed, acknowledged and addressed.   Doctors are dying from this system of institutional abuse. It is a public health emergency no one is talking about.  Yet those behind the PHP programs are claiming this system of coercion, abuse and control is the “gold standard” of addiction treatment and, using another loophole, they want to expand this system to mainstream healthcare.

Sincerely,

Michael L. Langan, M.D.

  1. Skipper G. Exploring the Reliability, Frequency, and Methods of Drug Testing: What is Enough to Ensure Compliance?:   Alcohol Markers and Devices. 2013; http://www.fsphp.org/Skipper, Exploring the Reliability Frequency and Methods 2 Presentation.pdf.
  2. Wurst FM, Vogel R, Jachau K, et al. Ethyl glucuronide discloses recent covert alcohol use not detected by standard testing in forensic psychiatric inpatients. Alcoholism, clinical and experimental research. Mar 2003;27(3):471-476.
  3. Skipper GE, Weinmann W, Thierauf A, et al. Ethyl glucuronide: a biomarker to identify alcohol use by health professionals recovering from substance use disorders. Alcohol Alcohol. Sep-Oct 2004;39(5):445-449.
  4. Kingdon JW. Agendas, alternatives, and public policies. Updated 2nd ed. Boston: Longman; 2011.
  5. Leape LL. Institute of Medicine medical error figures are not exaggerated. JAMA : the journal of the American Medical Association. Jul 5 2000;284(1):95-97.
  6. Schneidman B. The Philosophy of Rehabilitation for Impaired Physicians. The Federal Bulletin: The Journal of Medical Licensure and Discipline. 1995;82(3):125-127.
  7. Jansen M, Bell LB, Sucher MA, Stoehr JD. Detection of Alcohol Use in Monitored Aftercare Programs: A National Survey of State Physician Health Programs. Journal of Medical Licensure and Discipline. 2004;90(2):8-13
  8. Skipper G, Weinmann W, Wurst F. Ethylglucuronide (EtG): A New Marker to Detect Alcohol Use in Recovering Physicians. Journal of Medical Licensure and Discipline. 2004;90(2):14-17.
  9. McGarity TO, Wagner WE. Bending Science: How Special Interests Corrupt Public Health Research. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press; 2008.
  10. US Department of Health and Human Services. Mandatory guidelines and proposed revisions to mandatory guidelines for federal workplace drug testing programs: notices. Federal Register. April 13, 2004;69(71):19659-19660.
  11. Wood B. State of North Carolina Performance Audit North Carolina Physicians Health Program. . http://www.ncauditor.net/EPSWeb/Reports/Performance/PER-2013-8141.pdf. Accessed March 17, 2015.
  12. U.S. District Court Eastern District of Michigan, Case No: 2:15-cv-10337-AJT-RSW (2015). Carole Lucas, R.N., Tara Vialpandno, R.N., Scott Sanders, R.N., Kelly Schultz, P.A., and all other similarly situated health professionals v. Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, Carole Engel, J.D.Former Director of Michigan Bureau of Health Professions, Ulliance, Inc. (State Contractor), Carolyn Batchelor (HPRP Contract Administrator), Stephen Batchelor (HPRP Contract Administrator), and Nikki Jones, LMSW.   Filed January 30, 2015.
  13. Boyd JW, Knight JR. Ethical and managerial considerations regarding state physician health programs. Journal of addiction medicine. Dec 2012;6(4):243-246.

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Class Action Suit Filed Against Michigan PHP Alleging Constitutional Violations Related to Involuntary Treatment

Screen Shot 2015-01-09 at 1.59.40 AMA Federal class action lawsuit has been filed in the Eastern District of Michigan against the state PHP program alleging constitutional violations related to the forced medical treatment of health care professionals involved in the State’s  “Professionals Health Program” (PHP)  and the “callous and reckless termination of professional licenses without due process.”  According to the complaint:

“The Health Professional Recovery Program (HPRP) was established by the Michigan Legislature as a confidential, non-disciplinary approach to support recovery from substance use or mental health disorders. The program was designed to encourage impaired health professionals to seek a recovery program before their impairment harms a patient or damages their careers through disciplinary action. Unfortunately, a once well-meaning program, HPRP, has turned into a highly punitive and involuntary program where health professionals are forced into extensive and unnecessary substance abuse/dependence treatment under the threat of the arbitrary application of pre-hearing deprivations (Summary Suspension) by LARA.filed in the the State of Michigan and a private contractor (Ulliance, Inc. of Troy, Michigan) engaged in a conspiracy to violate the civil rights of Michigan health professionals by involuntarily subjecting them to excessive and unnecessary treatment for substance abuse and suspending their licenses if they do not comply.”

As is the case with most PHPs across the country taken over by the FSPHP the mechanics and mentality are the same.  Referrals can be made anonymously by “colleagues, partners, hospital administrations, patients, family members, or the State” to the PHP for any health professional (from acupuncturist to veterinarian) exhibiting “potential signs of impairment”

The HPRP website states the names of those reporting are kept confidential “unless testimony is needed at a later disciplinary hearing.”

Screen Shot 2015-03-16 at 3.28.39 AMAfter initial intake with HPRP, the licensee is referred to a “qualified evaluator” and “If the evaluation indicates a substance use and/or mental health disorder that represent a possible impairment” the HPRP makes referrals for treatment services to an “approved provider.Screen Shot 2015-03-16 at 3.29.35 AM

The “qualified evaluators” and “approved providers” are undoubtedly  the same out-of-state  facilities North Carolina state Auditor Beth Woods found her state program was referring to in her audit of the N.C. PHP under the undefinable justification they were “PHP-approved.”

As with North Carolina,  the Michigan PHP will be unable to provide what quality indicators and quantitative measurements are being used to “qualify” and “approve these facilities.    None exist as the common denominators in these “PHP-approved” and state mandated assessment and treatment centers are ideological and economic.  

The medical directors of almost if not all of them can be seen on this list of “like-minded docs.”  The conflicts-of-interest and intertwined relationships among this group is staggering.

The philosophy of Like-Minded Docs is the following:

“We believe that evidence from extensive, well-designed studies demonstrates the great benefits of Twelve-Step recovery modalities including Twelve Step Facilitation in promoting long-term recovery. Further, Twelve-Step modalities are compatible with other treatment strategies including medication-management. We believe that Addiction specialists need to facilitate a path for our patients toward the best possible state of wellness and recovery as they receive treatment for this chronic disease.  We believe a well-rounded educational and clinical preparation for physicians choosing to practice addiction medicine or addiction psychiatry requires a comprehensive exposure to the psychosocial and spiritual modalities of treatment as well as the neurobiological and psychopharmacological modalities.”

This connection needs to be made by both North Carolina and Michigan as the state is mandating treatment not only to assessment and treatment centers with economic conflicts of interest but with ideological ones as well.  Health care practitioners are being forced into evaluations exclusively at 12-step facilities and excluding non-12 step assessment and treatment centers.  This is a clear violation of the Establishment Clause of the 1st Amendment.

The complaint goes on to state the HPRP:

“has expanded its role to include making treatment decisions in place of the opinions of qualified providers. Licensees are subjected to intake evaluations by a pre-selected cadre of providers who profit from the enrollment of HPRP members. This process culminates in a large number of health professionals receiving a “Monitoring Agreement” which is essentially a nonnegotiable contract for treatment selected by HPRP. While HPRP’s contract with the State requires that treatment be selected by an approved provider and that it be tailored in scope and length to meet the individual licensee’s needs, licensees generally receive the same across-the-board treatment mandates regardless of their diagnosis or condition. Further, treatment providers are not permitted to recommend the specific treatment rendered and HPRP has a policy that only HPRP can set the terms of the treatment required in the contract. Failure to “voluntarily” submit to unnecessary and costly HPRP treatment results in automatic summary suspension..”

“Facing the threat of summary suspension in the event of non-compliance, licensed health professionals are induced into a contract as a punitive tool of BHCS and are often required to refrain from working without prior approval, refrain from taking prescription drugs prescribed by treating physicians, and sign broad waivers allowing HPRP to disclose their private health information to employers, the State of Michigan, and/or treating physicians.”

“Every licensee in the State of Michigan who has received a summary suspension, as a result of HPRP non-compliance, has had their private health data transmitted to the BHCS for use during administrative proceedings. In short, 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. The involuntary nature of HPRP policies and procedures as outlined above and the unanimous application of suspension procedures upon HPRP case closure are clear violations of Procedural Due Process under the Fourteenth Amendment.”

This is exactly the same system of institutional injustice seen at Ridgeview under G. Douglas Talbott.  Multiple physician suicides were attributed to these same abuses–involuntary forced treatment under extortion of loss of licensure.  It is time this elephant in the room be addressed in terms of the marked increased in suicide we are seeing now.

 

http://www.chapmanlawgroup.com/hprp-class-action/

Health Professionals File Class Action Against HPRP

Jurisdiction: U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan

Subject: Plaintiff’s filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of Michigan health care professionals, alleging constitutional violations related to the forced medical treatment of health care professionals involved in the State’s substance abuse monitoring program (HPRP) and the callous and reckless termination of professional licenses without due process by HPRP and the Bureau of Healthcare Services.

Three Michigan health professionals filed a federal class action for due process violations arising out of execution of a State substance abuse monitoring program known as the Health Professionals Recovery Program. According to the class action lawsuit filed today in the Eastern District of Michigan, the State of Michigan and a private contractor (Ulliance, Inc. of Troy, Michigan) engaged in a conspiracy to violate the civil rights of Michigan health professionals by involuntarily subjecting them to excessive and unnecessary treatment for substance abuse and suspending their licenses if they do not comply.

HPRP, intended as a voluntary treatment program by the legislature, has become a highly punitive and involuntary tool designed to circumvent due process, the complaint states. However, according to the complaint, Carole Engle, the Former Director of the Bureau of Healthcare Services, implemented a policy that any person who does not voluntarily submit to this unnecessary treatment would be immediately suspended without a hearing and prevented from practicing as a health professional. Carole Engle recently resigned her position after Governor Snyder refused to renew her contract with the State of Michigan. It is unclear whether her recent resignation is related to the recently filed class action.

The controversial treatment program has generated a significant amount of criticism in recent years from Michigan health professionals who have called for a class action in an effort to stop HPRP’s abuse of their broad sweeping power. For years, HPRP subjected nurses to three years of intense addiction treatment sometimes on the basis of an anonymous tip.

“We turned to the courts for fairness because HPRP’s mandate of unnecessary treatment has ruined countless lives. My life has been ripped apart by HPRP despite the fact that two evaluators determined that I do not need treatment. I am only one of hundreds who have had to choose between suspension of my license and tens of thousands of dollars worth of treatment that was unnecessary – I just couldn’t afford it, and now I can no longer practice as a nurse” said Carol Lucas, a registered nurse and a Plaintiff in the class action.

Chapman Law Group, a Michigan health care law firm, filed the complaint on behalf of three named Plaintiffs, each of whom fell victim to HPRP’s demand that they submit to unnecessary treatment or have their license suspended. The class includes Michigan health professionals who are or were participants in the Health Professionals Recovery Program during the period from January 1, 2011 to present.

The complaint and amended complaint can be seen below:

Michigan Case 2-15-cv-10337

Michigan Amended Complaint 2-15-cv-10337

 

Letters From Those Abused and Afraid

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Letters From Those Abused and Afraid.

Please sign Petition.

I get many e-mails, letters and phone calls from doctors, nurses and others who have been abused by  “professional health programs” (PHPs).  Most do not want their letters published for fear of being identified and punished by the PHP.   They are reluctant to do so even with their names and states removed as they feel their complaints alone could reveal their identity to they prying eyes of the PHP.   A few have allowed their letters to be posted and I am doing so here:    Letters From Those Abused and Afraid

I am posting Dr. Roop’s  letter below at his request.  He specifically stated his name and contact information be included. I applaud his courage.   As was the case with the Inquisition, this is system  that relies, above all else,  on secrecy and silence.

Effective “Impression management” requires both promoting positive information and suppressing negative information.

The “PHP-blueprint” has been effectively propagandized via a back-slapping parade of congratulatory misinformation; a promotional campaign that includes exaggeration of the existence and dangers of the doctors they target as well as their inflated abilities and success in “helping” these doctors and protecting the public.   Aimed at the legal, regulatory, and administrative arenas of medicine as well as the the general public, the PHP moral crusade has flourished without any meaningful opposition.

 Suppression of negative information is necessary and  involves both removal  ( comments critical of PHPs are rapidly removed as spam) and prevention.   One way of preventing negative information is by silencing critics.  Those enrolled in PHP programs who speak out often suffer “swift and certain consequences” and this effectively silences the rest.

 In reality  If more people like Dr. Roop spoke up this abusive system of coercion, control and corruption could easily be identified, exposed and reformed.

Sunshine is the best disinfectant.

The stories are the same and these patterns must be recognized.

Doctors  are vulnerable to medical abuse, just like any other patient.  Their knowledge of medicine and the medical system, means that they question, as they should, the validity and appropriateness of any treatment.   It has long been proven that patients that question their doctor’s decisions and the quality of the care provided to them, fare better and have better outcomes and are less subject to medical error or medical fraud.

The Physicians Health Program is based on a flawed philosophy that Doctors must be beaten down, forced to be submissive and obedient to PHP authority who intimidate and control, deny access to services, impose punishments, and even create criminal records with impunity and immunity.

This not quality care for anyone. It is abuse.  The PHP paradigm is just another  example of how false constructs come to to be regarded as irrefutable truth.

Once in the clutches of a  PHP a doctor is told – obey us, or lose your license, your hospital privileges, your credit rating, your good reputation – obey us no matter what we tell you to do.

 If you stand up to them, they take you down, very publicly and humiliate you, and destroy your career and good name.  Then no other doctor who saw the retaliation that happened to you is willing to buck the PHP system.  It is essentially extortion.

Dr. Janet Parker, a a human rights and disability advocate has  personal knowledge of doctors forced into the Washington PHP program Dr. Roop speaks of below.

These doctors told her that they had a plan to kill themselves if a PHP  “peer counselor” came anywhere near them –  they meant it.

3 doctors in the Washington PHP did commit suicide during the period of time when she was interviewing the WPHP referred doctors.   Last year a doctor I went to high school with and have known since childhood hanged himself due to the abuses of the Washington PHP.  HIs crime?  He was pulled over for speeding five years prior after having a few drinks at a social function.  He was given a breathalyzer and blew just over the legal limit–his entry ticket into the system Dr. Roop describes below.   As is often the case, he was given a positive alcohol biomarker just as he was about to complete the five-year PHP contract  This results in re-assessment at a “PHP-approved” facility, a new contract with the PHP and another five-years of drug and alcohol testing  all paid for out of-pocket.

And this is a national problem–three doctors being monitored by the Oklahoma state PHP killed themselves during a one month period (August 2014).

There is no evidential standard used and false accusations and even forged documents are routinely used against the targeted doctor.   Physicians are ill prepared for such criminal tactics used against them,  by the time they realize it is happening, it is too late to stop the inevitable process that threatens their medical license.  This is very emotionally traumatic to doctors who have always excelled in their schooling, worked hard to get where they are, and are facing the loss of not only their professional careers but also financial security, their self esteem and self concept.


Name: Jonathan Crane Roop MD

Email: jonathanroop@hotmail.com

Comment: I am Board Certified in Internal medicine. I have endured years of emotional, psychological and spiritual abuse at the hands of the Washington Physician’s Health Program. I have suffered through a long list of injustices without recourse. They include, but are not limited to discrimination, abuse of power, breach of contract and repeated and WILLFUL medical negligence. 

Because the actions of the WPHP have been SO egregious, I assumed what was happening to me must be extraordinarily rare.

I have nothing to hide. And I have shared my story with any and all who would listen. To date, my voice, my rights and now my life have been dismissed as unimportant. MY LIFE!! It’s apparently better that I die than my tormentors be questioned and compelled to defend their indefensible and evil behavior. 

I am meeting with one last attorney tomorrow. I fully expect him to ignore the basic, indisputable and well documented facts of my case. Namely, there is massive and systematic malfeasance being committed by a tax payer funded agency in the State of Washington who act with omnipotence and without oversight. I have no reason to believe he will respond any differently than the others with whom I have met. HE WON’T CARE! HE WILL NOT BE MOVED. He will make statements that suggest I DESERVE this treatment. And that my life, as well as my imminent death, is unworthy of his time or efforts.

Once my assumptions about this last meeting are officially confirmed, I am committed to the only course of action available to me. The only thing which will put an end to this nightmare.

Today I stumbled upon your website. And today, for the first time, I have learned that my case is not rare. I suspect the other physician victims in this matter have occasionally allowed themselves to dream wistfully of justice. Justice which they have seen thwarted at every turn. Perhaps they, like me, have dreamily imagined the relief and joy and LIFE they would experience if the truth were simply presented and the perpetrators held accountable. I have imagined standing up in court and triumphantly affecting justice for myself as well as all of the other current and future victims. I deliver a powerful defense of justice. My ‘dream speech’. I have imagined that I might still live. And then I wake up. 

And so today, imagine my shock, when I found my ‘dream speech’ here. My speech. Reasonable. Honest. Consistent. And based firmly in truth, justice and defense of the powerless against the (arbitrarily) powerful. My speech, it seemed, but authored by another.

Thank you, Dr. Langan.  You have given a voice to my struggles. Please never stop speaking for me, and people like me, many of whom, I fear, will not survive to see justice. 

Despite my intention to die, I actually WANT TO LIVE! And I will live and fight on if I ever believe that there is even a small chance of justice for me and the other innocent victims of PHP’s and the ‘treatment’ centers with whom they contract (Talbott in my case. Purely evil and loathsome human beings, for the record).

So, because I do WANT to live…PLEASE HELP ME, SIR!

Can you refer me to attorneys, individuals or groups who might advocate for me and the other victims? Do you have any specific words of hope or encouragement?

Please note my name. Please add me to the list of innocent victims of these power hungry, narcissistic BULLIES.

I don’t expect to live through this. And in a way, the PHP, Talbott and the addiction ‘experts’ with whom I have been tragically acquainted are correct…My life is worth very little. But this issue is so much larger than I. I can die with some serenity if I believe there will be meaningful justice for others like me. And that those responsible will be held to account. 

Thank you Dr. Langan. Thanks to all of those involved in the creation and maintenance of this website. Although your shining beacon is barely perceivable through the darkness of injustice which surrounds and seeks to extinguish it…it is the only glimmer of hope I have found during my slow death by PHP.

Jonathan Crane Roop MD

811 S Cowley St #48

Spokane WA 99202

509-710-4641

The Elephant in the Room: Physician Suicide and Physician Health Programs

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Physician Suicide and the Elephant in the Room

Michael Langan, M.D.

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

Depression and Substance Abuse Comparable to General Population

Depression and substance abuse are the two biggest risk factors for suicide. The prevalence of depression in physicians is close to that of the general population 1,2 and, if one looks critically at the evidence based literature, substance abuse in medical professionals approximates that of the general population.  Controlled studies using DSM diagnostic criteria suggest that physicians have the same rates (8-14%) of substance abuse and dependence as the rest of the population 3 and slightly lower rates compared to other occupations.4,5 Epidemiological surveys reveal the same. Hughes, et al.6 found a lifetime prevalence of drug or alcohol abuse or dependence in physicians of 7.9%, markedly less than the 14.6% prevalence reported in the general population by Kessler.7

State Physician Health Programs

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

Physician Health Programs (PHP) can be considered an equivalent to Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) for other occupations. PHPs meet with, assess and monitor doctors who have been referred to them for substance use or other mental or behavioral health problems. Originally developed as “impaired physician” programs, the PHPs were created to help doctors who developed problems with substance abuse or addiction an alternative to disciplinary action by State Medical Boards. These programs existed in almost every state by 1980. Often staffed by volunteer physicians and funded State Medical Societies, these programs served the dual purpose of helping sick colleagues and protecting the public. Preferring rehabilitation to probation or license revocation so long as the public was protected from imminent danger, most medical boards accepted the concept with support and referrals. Most EAPs were developed with the collaboration of workers unions or some other group supporting the rights and interests of the workers.  As there is no such organization representing doctors, PHPs developed in the absence of regulation or oversight.    As a consequence there is no meaningful accountability.   

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Bullying, Helplessness, Hopelessness and Despair

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To wit:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Part II — Whistleblowers and Psychiatrists: Sluggish Schizophrenia

Chaos Theory and Pharmacology

 “The cure for a fallacious argument is a better argument, not the suppression of ideas.” ― Carl Sagan

Clasificación Mundial de la Libertad de Prensa 2015 (1)






DRAFT

This document will be continuously updated, excerpts will be deleted and replaced with remain — more information will be added.






Information liberation: Challenging the corruptions of information power

by Brian Martin
London: Freedom Press, 1998
189 pages, ISBN 0 900384 93 X

http://www.bmartin.cc/pubs/98il/ilall.html






I would like to begin this discussion with the 1st reason that made give me inspiration and additional courage to continue with this struggle and made understand that, no matter what happens, I have to continue with the discussion of this matter — Thank you Dr. Langan for giving me that additional inspiration — difficult to find the appropriate words to describe the type of ill-treatment, degradation, and humiliation that defines forced psychiatric treatment — especially when this is used to suppress dissenting ideas questioning the safety and effectiveness…

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Psychopathy and the Medical Profession

IMG_4651In his book Without Conscience, Dr. Robert Hare notes “If we can’t spot them, we are doomed to be their victims, both as individuals and as a society. ” Dr. Clive Boddy in Corporate Psychopaths observes that unethical leaders create unethical followers, which in turn create unethical companies and society suffers as a result.” And if you look at the FSPHP branch of the ASAM that is exactly what you will find.  It is the perfect funnel for such personalities in our profession–relicensed by claiming the salvation card and an externalization of all blame.   “I didn’t do it it was my disease.”   In this manner felons, double felons, swindlers and pedophiles have not only gotten their medical licenses back but PUT IN CHARGE of evaluating other doctors in a rigged system with no regulation, transparency or oversight.  Bad idea.  It is a facade.  Less than 1/% of the general population are psychopaths but they represent more that 10% of those in prisons. What is the natural history of the physician psychopath? You do the math.

http://psychopathyinfo.wordpress.com/2012/03/22/characteristics-of-corporate-psychopaths-and-their-corporations/

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Psychopathy Everywhere?

A SPECIAL ME-P REPORT

By Michael Lawrence Langan MD

Psychopathy is present in all professions.

In The Wisdom of Psychopaths: What Saints, Spies, and Serial Killers Can Teach Us About Success, Kevin Dutton provides a side-by-side list of professions with the highest (CEO tops the list) and lowest (care-aid) percentage of psychopaths.

Interestingly surgeons come in at #5 among the professions with the highest percentage of psychopathy while doctors  (in general) are listed among the lowest [more ……>]

Psychopathy and the Medical Profession

 holloween

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Channel Surfing the ME-P

Have you visited our other topic channels? Established to facilitate idea exchange and link our community together, the value of these topics is dependent upon your input. Please take a minute to visit. And, to prevent that annoying…

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