Class Action Lawsuit Hits Michigan Professional Health Program

Class Action Lawsuit Hits Michigan Professional Health Program

State Physician Health Programs Scurry to Avoid Legal Action, Doctors Outraged

A  lawsuit was filed in Federal Court in March against the organization that monitors impaired professionals for the Michigan State Board of Medicine, alleging constitutional violations, financial conflicts, lack of oversight, and due process.  Three mid-level providers are claiming damages as a result of actions taken by the Health Professional Recovery Program (HPRP), originally established to provide health professionals with a confidential and non-disciplinary approach  to dealing with substance abuse disorders and mental health issues.

The HPRP, administered by a private contractor, was initially designed to monitor treatment of health professionals referred to them by providers.  But plaintiffs claim the program’s administrators are overruling treatment decisions by board-certified and licensed physicians in favor of coercion of individuals into a small group of selected treatment facilities that are also charged with providing an initial evaluation of the need for treatment. Treatment facilities are expensive, and in most cases, insurance companies don’t consider these admissions to be medically necessary.

In one case cited in the court filing, the plaintiff was told she would have to stop taking pain medication prescribed by her treating physician for a period of two years. This decision was made after a short evaluation during which the evaluator did not contact the treating provider, and when the plaintiff refused to agree, her nursing license was summarily suspended. Her suspension was later dissolved in court. This is one small example, but it’s telling, Last time I checked, doctors had the right to choose a healthcare provider. It is surprising that the Michigan Medical Board would support a policy that essentially declares many of their own licensees inadequate to provide a treatment plan.

Unfortunately, this is not the only professional health program faced with backlash for financial double dealing and coercion. North Carolina physicians’ complaints promoted the North Carolina State Auditor to investigate oversight by the medical board in that state, and she found evidence of lack of oversight and the appearance of conflict of interest. Money flowed directly from the “impaired physician program” to their “approved providers” in the form of scholarships for the doctors they referred.

A common pattern has emerged in the treatment of doctors for mental illness or substance abuse. Agencies that were originally installed as volunteer boards aimed at helping doctors return to practice safely have been populated with a new group of professionals – doctors who are closely tied to treatment facilities or drug testing companies who frequently have their own history of substance abuse issues.

A recent string of posts on SERMO, the world’s largest physician-only social network, received a lot of attention. It is clear there have been a lot of abuses, sharing of confidential information, and lack of due process for participants. Many object to the religious overtones of every program that is “approved” for doctors by the Federation of State Physician Health Committees, the parent organization that has formed to keep all state committees notified of talking points. Physicians are currently subjected to polygraph tests, a practice most Americans would never accept. The term “disruptive physician” is an easy way to target those who speak out against a system that has become adversarial.

There are 400 suicide deaths annually among US physicians. Many of these doctors suicide when under investigation or contract with the committees originally designed to help them return to health. Other doctors are afraid to speak out, for fear of reprisal, particularly when in a contract with their PHP.

Have you heard of a colleague who has self-reported or has been reported for mental health or substance issues? Perhaps you have experienced a period of mental health crisis in your own life. How did you handle reporting requirements? What rights should doctors enjoy?

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When Dentists Go Too Far: North Carolina Board of Dental Examiners v. Federal Trade Commission

Originally posted on Article 8:Antitrust litigation hasn’t disappeared, but rather changed its focus. Instead of targeting the great railroad empires of the late 19th century, today’s antitrust efforts focus on more minute industries, like dentistry. In October, the Supreme Court heard arguments for North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners v. Federal Trade Commission, in which…

https://disruptedphysician.com/2015/03/20/when-dentists-go-too-far-north-carolina-board-of-dental-examiners-v-federal-trade-commission/

Class Action Suit Filed Against Michigan PHP Alleging Constitutional Violations Related to Involuntary Treatment—Looking for Attorneys Familiar with (or Willing to Learn About) PHP Issues to File Similar Suits Including here in Massachusetts

Screen Shot 2015-01-09 at 1.59.40 AMSurvey indicating same patterns across the country–Looking for attorneys familiar with (or more importantly willing to learn about) professional health program legal issues who can file similar suits including Here in Massachusetts.

The issues are the same and include:

1. False assessments and diagnoses.
2. Forensic fraud and falsified drug and alcohol tests.
3. Collusion with third party commercial labs to commit fraud.
4. Establishment clause violations.
5. HIPAA Violations.
6. Anti-trust violations.
7. Ultra vires acts as non-profit agencies including the unlawful practice of medicine.

Please click on the links above to see detailed examples and discussions of these issues.  It is an open area as my survey has revealed an additional factor stacking the deck and removing accountability from PHPs.

The attorneys ostensibly representing doctors are also part of the racket.

A doctor referred to a PHP will be given a list of 3 or 4 attorneys by the PHP who are “experienced in working with the medical board.” What they do not tell you is that theses attorneys are hand-picked or cultivated to abide by the rules dictated by the PHP.

They will not “bite the hand that feeds” and any procedural, ethical or criminal misconduct by the PHP will not be addressed.

See “Competent, Ethical and Fair Legal Representation for Doctors–A Possible New Niche Area for Lawyers.”

My survey also indicates some states are worse than others and North Carolina, Washington, Florida and Massachusetts are over-represented as far as misconduct and ethical violations.

Disrupted Physician

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…

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