The Medical Profession, Moral Entrepreneurship, Moral Panics, and Social Control

The Medical Profession, Moral Entrepreneurship, Moral Panics, and Social Control.

As a society governed by organizations, associations,  institutions and regulatory bodies, the medical profession is not immune to “moral panics” and “moral crusades.”

A threat to patient care or the values of the profession can be identified and amplified.   A buildup of public concern fueled by media attention ensues creating a need for governing bodies to act. Medical Professionalism and the Public Health has been assailed.

Unbeknownst to the general population and most members of the medical profession at large, certain groups have gained tremendous sway within organizational and regulatory medicine. Through  moral entrepreneurship they have gained authority and become  the primary definers of the governance of the medical profession and the social control of  doctors.  To benefit their own interests they have fostered and fueled “moral panics.” Exhorting authorities to fight these  threats by any means necessary  they have successfully made and enforced rules and  regulations and introduced new self-serving definitions and tools that neither help doctors nor protect the public.

Anatomy of a Forensic Fraud: The Reality of Drug and Alcohol Testing

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The juxtaposed documents in and of themselves reveal a number of red flags.  How does one “revise” a chain-of-custody”?    If you do a google search you will not find “chain-of-custody” as an object of the verb revise. It is an oxymoron.  A document or opinion can be revised.  A chain-of-custody, by its very definition, cannot.  This collusion to fabricate a positive test has coined a new oxymoron—“revised chain-of-custody.”     Go ahead and look it up. It is a novel one.     As it should be.

What these documents show is, in fact, indefensible ethically, procedurally and legally.  The first document signed by Dr. Luis Sanchez, past President of the FSPHP and past Medical Director of Physician Health Services, Inc.  (PHS) was sent to the Board of Registration in Medicine on December 11, 2012 and is notable for two statements.   The letter from Dr. Sanchez asserts that “Yesterday, December 10, 2012, Physician Health Services, PHS received a revision of a laboratory test result,” but it did not matter because PHS was {unaware} ” of any action taken by the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine as a result of the July 28th, 2011 report.   However, based on the amended report, PHS will continue to disregard the July 21st PEth test result.”

The second document, addressed to Dr. Luis Sanchez, is dated October 4, 2012 (67 days earlier) and shows the first document to be a bald-faced lie.

On July 28h 2011 Dr. Luis Sanchez reported to the Medical Board that I had a positive alcohol test.

Although I knew that Dr. Sanchez had fabricated the test I  had no way of proving it. I requested the “litigation packet,” which records “chain-of-custody” from collection to analysis in August of 2011.  At first they  refused.  PHS then tried to dissuade me (“it will be costly, involve attorneys, etc). Finally they agreed but threatened me with “unintended consequences.”

I was finally able to get a copy of the “litigation packet”  in December of 2011.  Remarkably, it  showed that Sanchez had requested my ID # and a “chain-of-custody” be added to an already positive specimen. I reported this to the Board but they ignored it. I also filed a complaint with the College of American Pathologists.Screen Shot 2014-11-06 at 11.17.32 PM

On October 23, 2012 Sanchez reported to the Medical Board that I was “noncompliant” with requirements with A.A.  meetings that I was supposed to go to as a direct result of the positive test and my license to practice medicine was suspended as a result in December 2012.

On December 10, 2012 I contacted the College of American Pathologists who told me the test was “amended” from “positive” to “invalid” on October 4, 2012. I confronted Sanchez and PHS and they said they did not know anything about it.

The following day, December 11, 2012, they sent out a letter saying that the test was invalid but that they were “unaware of any action taken against my license as a result of the test.”  

The documents show that on  July 19th, 2011 Sanchez requested my ID # 1310 and a “chain-of-custody” be added to an already positive specimen and on October 4th 2012 the test was “appended” to “external chain of custody not followed per standard protocol.”

Please note again that  Dr. Sanchez stated on December 11, 2012 that he “just learned” about this on December 10, 2012. He reported me to the Board as “noncompliant” on October 23, 2012 and my license was suspended in December 2012.   These documents show he had full knowledge that the test was invalid and as an agent of the Board this is under “color of law.”   Both he, and PHS, need to be held accountable for this.

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Lies, Lies, and More Lies

10:19:12-Verbal Compliant Noncompliance f:u written 10:19:12–BORM Complaint Committee

The contradictory documents from Sanchez alone constitute a crime (withholding information in concealment and providing false information to a state agency).  But what he did is far far worse.

I just obtained the October 4th document. Although I knew it existed, PHS suppressed it and refused to acknowledge it.   But in response to a complaint I filed against PHS and the labs it was revealed by USDTL that the test in question (phosphatidyl-ethanol) was not sent as a “forensic” specimen but collected as a “forensic” specimen, then changed to a “clinical” specimen at the request of PHS Program Director, Linda Bresnahan.   The specimen was kept at the collecting lab (Quest) for 7 days as a  “clinical” specimen, then sent to the analyzing lab (USDTL) with specific instructions from Quest to process it and report it as a “clinical” specimen.  PHS then used it as a “forensic” specimen by reporting me to the Board of Registration in Medicine and  requesting I undergo an evaluation for alcohol abuse.

As a “clinical” specimen it is rendered “Protected Health Information” (PHI) and thus under the HIPAA Privacy-Rule.   So with the help of the College of American Pathologists I requested my PHI from both Quest and USDTL. Quest refused (for obvious reasons) but USDTL complied.   And that is how I was able to obtain the October 4th document revealing that Dr. Sanchez lied to the Medical Board.     I would love to hear him, or PHS MRO Wayne Gavryck, defend the indefensible (and unconscionable).

Dr. Sanchez is correct when he pleads ignorance of any action taken by the Board as a result of the July 21st PEth result.   It was his report to the Medical Board  that I was “noncompliant” with attending AA meetings (that I was supposed to go to as the direct and sole result of the positive test)   that he reported to the Board just two weeks after the October 4th appended test.

The test was sent as a “clinical” specimen intentionally. PHS is not a clinical provider but a monitoring agency. They cannot send clinical samples.   But since clinical samples are “protected health information” and under HIPAA the lab had to give me the records and here you have them.

The distinction between “forensic” and “clinical” drug and alcohol testing is black and white.  PHS is a monitoring program not a treatment provider.  The fact that a monitoring agency with an MRO asked the lab to process and report it as a clinical sample and then used it forensically is an extreme outlier in terms of forensic fraud.  The fact that they collected it forensically, held it for 7 days and changed it from “forensic” to “clinical” to bypass strict “chain-of-custody” requirements  deepens the malice.  The fact that they then reported it to the Board as a forensic sample and maintained it was forensic up until now makes it egregious.   But the fact that the test was changed from “positive” to “invalid” on October 4th, 2012 and Sanchez then reported me to the Board on October 23rd 2012 for “noncompliance,” suppressed it and tried to send me to Kansas for damage control makes it wantonly egregious.   (they didn’t think I’d ever find out).

Add on that the fact that I’ve been questioning the validity of the test since day 1 and they violated the HIPAA Privacy Rule over and over and this is reckless and major health care fraud.

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Fax from PHS to USDTL on July 19th, 2011 asking that my ID #1310 be added to an already positive test and a “chain-of-custody” be “updated”

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USDTL complies with PHS request to and adds my ID #1310 and a date of collection (July 1, 2011) to an already positive specimen

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No date of collection, no unique identifier linking specimen to me. Multiple “fatal flaws.”

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I file complaint with CAP January 12, 2102. CAP forces USDTL to amend test from “positive” to “invalid” which they do on October 4, 2012. PHS conceals this fact until December 11, 2012

Letter from Chief of Toxicology at MGH–Ignored by PHS, USDTL, and the BORM         11:5:12-Dr. Flood Letter–Ignored by PHS:USDTL:BORM

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A Golden Age

BY TIMOTHY STEELE

Even in fortunate times,
The nectar is spiked with woe.
Gods are incorrigibly
Capricious, and the needy
Beg in Nineveh or sleep
In paper-gusting plazas
Of the New World’s shopping malls.
Meantime, the tyrant battens
On conquest, while advisers,
Angling for preferment, seek
Expedient paths. Heartbroken,
The faithful advocate looks
Back on cities of the plain
And trudges into exile.
And if any era thrives,
It’s only because, somewhere,
In a plane tree’s shade, friends sketch
The dust with theorems and proofs,
Or because, instinctively,
A man puts his arm around
The shoulder of grief and walks
It (for an hour or an age)
Through all its tears and telling.

Timothy Steele, “Golden Age” from Sapphics and Uncertainties: Poems 1970-1986. Copyright � 1986, 1995 by Timothy Steele. Reprinted with the permission of the University of Arkansas Press, www.uapress.com.

Source: Sapphics Against Anger and Other Poems (1986)

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Disappointed that his grandiose proposal to test the urine of half the U.S. population for illicit drugs was declined in the 1980’s, Bob realizes such a large swath was too tall an order. Acknowledging that his dream of lifelong urine drops for each and every one of the riffraff at least once a fortnight will take time, he decides to focus his attention on specific subsets of the great unwashed such as school-children, welfare mothers, the unemployed and whatever they are calling Hippies these days.

Medical Urban Legend–The Legacy of the 4 MDs and why B.S. Needs to be Identified from the Get-Go!

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“Because I can Biotches! That’s right..because I can!” 

According to G. Douglas Talbott, rehabilitation programs that evaluate and treat the rest of the population for substance abuse issues are incapable of doing so in doctors as they are unlike any other inhabitants of our society.   Physicians are unique. Unique because of their incredibly high denial”, and this genetically inherent denial is part of what he calls the “four MDs.” Used to justify the thrice lengthier length of stay in physicians the “four-MDs” are as follows: “M-Deity”, “Massive Denial” “Militant Defensiveness” and “More Drugs.”

He states that “Impaired doctors must first acknowledge their addiction and overcome their ‘terminal uniqueness’ before they can deal with a drug or alcohol problem.”
Now some  doctors are arrogant undisciplined egotists but narcissistic personalities exist in any profession and expanding traits that may apply to a small percentage of doctors to include all doctors as a universal truth contradicts reality. Applying a stereotypical paternalistic length of treatment in doctors three times as long as non-doctors to force a “one-size” fits all treatment on them has no evidence base.

tumblr_kuwuugSEmN1qz6z0no1_500This dicto simpliciter argument can, in fact, be refuted simply by pointing it out! Sadly, no one ever did so the ASAM front-group hasbeen able to establish this caricature of the arrogant paternalistic know it all needing 3 months or more of treatment as standard of care for our profession. They did this by getting medical boards and the FSMB to accept fantasy as fact by relying on board members tendency to accept expert evidence at face value–which they always do and that is a personality characteristic that I would argue is not dicto simpliciter.

Physicians are unique only insofar as the unique elements required of the profession to become and be a physician such as going to medical school and completing the required board examinations.

Any and all doctors referred to a PHP for assessment will spend at least 3 months in treatment if the facility feels it is indicated. It is inevitable. No one has challenged a patently absurd generalization that has absolutely no evidence base or plausible scientific or medical explanation. Of course those sentenced to the 3 or more months have complained but by that time they are de-legitimized and stigmatized. No one to complain to.  After all, these are just redeemed altruistic non-profit  good guys protecting the public and helping colleagues forge a path to salvation!
All the ASAM/FSPHP quacks have to do at that point to deflect legitimate concerns is point out the one doing the complaining is an “addict” who is “in denial” and it is part of his “disease.”  The mere accusation of substance abuse is used to disregard the claims of the accused.
Authoritative opinion entrenched. Someone should have called B.S. long ago.  But no one did and if they had we would not be in the current situation which is only going to go from bad to worse as the ASAM plan for universal contingency-management and urine usury unfolds-–A “golden age.” And the 4MDs Talbott attributes to doctors are all wrong. There is only one MD and it is “medical license.” On second thought that may not be entirely true.  “More money” may be another. And I am not talking about a doctor’s income. I am referring to insurance and the specter of depleting home and hearth.   Fiscal annihilation. Your license or your life.   And the only true  and plausible answer that Talbott could give to justify the lengthy stay is “Because I can biotches!” And “contingency-management” sounds better than extortion doesn’t it?  And  using your medical license as “leverage” sounds a helluva lot better than holding it for ransom.
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The ‘A’ Word: Are Doctors Arrogant?
Leslie Kane
June 17, 2014
Good Doctors Have Some Bad MomentsDoctors’ personalities have become a hot topic, not only because warmth and pleasantness count toward patient satisfaction, but also because positive patient interactions have a role in better outcomes.Physicians’ personalities are under the microscope as patients post reviews of doctors on numerous Websites. In some reviews, the word “arrogant” has shown up. But calling doctors arrogant is nothing new.Are there really so many arrogant doctors? No doubt, some physicians deserve the label, but it seems to be a stereotype that has blossomed and taken on its own life.”Arrogance among doctors is not the norm”, says Marion Stuart, PhD, co-author of The 15 Minute Hour: Therapeutic Talk in Primary Care, and Professor Emeritus in the Department of Family Medicine at UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. “Someone who has done the hard work and has gone into medicine because they care about people, and are interested in helping peoples’ lives and making the world a better place, is not going to be arrogant.”So how did the arrogant doctor epithet arise?In the past, doctors were considered authorities who told compliant patients what to do and treated them with a paternalistic attitude. Some doctors may retain those behaviors today.Another possibility is overgeneralizing. A patient sees a doctor who has a difficult personality and assumes that the trait is more widespread within the profession than it really is.

Arrogance or Self-confidence?

“Arrogance is totally different from self-confidence,” says Dr. Stuart. “When you’re confident, that’s your assessment of your own competence. You have the experience and the wisdom, you know what you can do, and your confidence says that. It’s your relationship to yourself and your own expertise,” she says.

Arrogance is a different ballgame. “This has to do with your judging that other people are inferior,” she says. “It has more to do with not seeing other people as being up to your standards.”

Could the confidence that comes with being accomplished and successful make someone arrogant? Typically no, says Dr. Stuart. The trait of arrogance develops or resides within a person at a much earlier stage, arising from one of two paths:

“I am indeed better.” Someone who has always lived a privileged life, feels entitled to all of the finer things, or has always been looked up to may take it as a given that he or she is better than others. “People who had a sheltered, protected existence with no perception of what the real world is like for other people may consider themselves an elite group, entitled to feel superior,” says Dr. Stuart.

“I made it, so why can’t you?” By contrast, a person who was deprived as a child and worked very hard to pull himself up by the bootstraps may then look down on others who don’t have the same perseverance or initiative to take charge of their life and create similar success.

Doctors Are Harried and Pressured; Patients Are More Demanding

Some doctors have admitted that at times it’s hard to maintain their patience, and frustration triggers a snappish response. Throw into the mix the fact that doctors may have less time to see each patient and answer questions, and you have the ingredients for a negative interaction.

“I’ve had eight years of medical education and I’ve been trying to get my patient to make healthy lifestyle changes, and he comes in with a page ripped out of a tabloid, convinced that the information is right…there’s a limit to how much time I can spend ‘educating’ or convincing them that their ‘cure’ has no scientific basis,” one physician told me.

People have come to expect the stance of “the customer is always right” and get annoyed if doctors don’t accede to all of their requests. But because of new medical practice guidelines, a doctor may not readily give the patient the test or medication they ask for. “Now, with healthcare insurers and companies setting limits on doctors, many times the patient feels that the doctor is not so much on their side, and this could be perceived as arrogant,” says Dr. Stuart.

Is There an Outbreak of Rudeness?

Barry Silverman, MD, a cardiologist and coauthor with pediatrician Saul Adler, MD, of Your Doctors’ Manners Matter: Better Health Through Civility in the Doctor’s Office and in the Hospital, says, “While most doctors are appreciated and respected by their patients, there’s a general perception that professionalism has declined.

“Patients are often more informed, ask detailed questions, and demand a high level of service, while demands on the doctor’s time increase and reimbursements fall,” says Dr. Silverman. “What patients interpret as arrogance is many times a rushed and harried doctor, not an uncaring one. Medicine can be mentally and physically exhausting, but the bottom line is that the doctor must listen and communicate with the patient to deliver quality medical care.”

Still, remaining pleasant and calm is easier for some doctors than for others. There’s no uniform physician personality; many doctors have a natural “people person” inclination, while others are more stoic.

Are doctors expected to smile and be nice in every circumstance, no matter what?

“Professionalism is not about putting on a happy face or being someone you are not; it is about providing quality care for the patient,” says Dr. Adler. “Patients are more informed and have access to more information than ever before. Much of that information is incorrect and sometimes harmful. That means that part of the professional duty is to teach as well as treat.

“Patients understand that doctors have significant restraints on their time, and it is not unreasonable for doctors to use preprinted written materials, educational resources outside the doctor’s personal office, and honest and informative Websites,” says Dr. Adler. “However, under no circumstances should the doctor be rude or abrupt; a smile and kind, considerate behavior is always appropriate.”

It would be naive to say that there aren’t arrogant doctors. But there are far more doctors trying to do their best for patients and relate to them.

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Organizational Purpose and Public Trust in Drug and Alcohol Testing

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http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/13/opinion/why-arent-doctors-drug-tested.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&_r=0

 

In 2012 Robert Dupont delivered the keynote speech at the Drug and Alcohol Testing Industry Association annual conference and described a “new paradigm” for addiction and substance abuse treatment of zero tolerance for alcohol and drug use that is enforced by monitoring with frequent random drug and alcohol tests. Detection of any substances is met with swift and certain consequences. He proposed expansion of this paradigm to other populations including workplace, healthcare, and schools. Based on the state Physician Health Program model of “contingency management,” with frequent testing and a point of “leverage,” such as a medical license in doctors, that is used as a behavioral incentive.

The ASAM White Paper on drug testing seems to indicate a desire to liberalize drug testing by utilizing health care providers in the process. Currently forensic drug testing uses a strict chain-of-custody protocol with Medical Review Officer (MRO) review. But if the result of a positive test is “therapeutic” rather than “punitive” this is unnecessary. In the “new paradigm” a positive test simply requires an evaluation at a “PHP-approved” facility.

IMG_9516 Accountability needs to be rooted in organizational purpose and public trust.

A recent article in JAMA, “Identification of Physician Impairment”  suggests that undetected physician impairment  may be contributing to medical error and that sentinel-event and  random alcohol-drug testing could be implemented to address the problem as is being done in the  current “Physician Health Program (PHP)” system.

The most consequential and critical issue for physicians, if this comes to fruition, is who will be in organizational and managerial control of the system and what ideological influences will be guiding policy and practice.   It is concerning that one of the co-authors of this article, Greg Skipper, is a Fellow of the American Society of Addiction Medicine with strong ties to the 12-step treatment industry and drug testing industry.

History shows Lord Acton’s aphorism on absolute power to be repeatedly true.  Corruption is a virtually inevitable consequenphotoce of unchecked power. The only two factors that constrain corruption are moral virtue and deterrence.

Disregard for standards of care and violations of codes of conduct are common.  So too is the use of anything that furthers the agenda.  Pseudoscience, such as polygraph testing, previously deemed by the American Medical Association as an unscientific game of “chance,” and psychometric testing of dubious validity are being used for confirmation of diagnoses.

They introduced and brought to market junk science like the Ethyl Glucuronide  (EtG) biomarker for detecting alcohol use. The EtG was introduced by an FSPHP physician, marketed, and proselytized as an accurate and reliable test for alcohol. After setting an arbitrary cutoff of 100 to prove drinking he ruined countless careers and lives.

As the disaster toll increased it became clear the test was not very good. It became apparent the test was, in fact, very flawed and misguided as using an ultra sensitive poorly specific test for a substance environmentally ubiquitous precludes its forensic applicability.

Hand sanitizer, cosmetics, sauerkraut, and myriad other products were shown to result in an elevated EtG. Sensibly, the majority of drug testing and monitoring programs abandoned it. 

The market for the test decreased dramatically as the only customers left were drug monitoring programs in which the testers had absolute power and those being tested were absolutely powerless–programs like those run by the PHP.

This group has now introduced the Phosphatidylethanol (PEth) test as a confirmation test for EtG and USDTL mScreen Shot 2014-04-05 at 2.08.11 PMarketed it as the PEthStat.  

State Physician Health Programs are now using the EtG  and adding the PEth to confirm alcohol ingestion. And just as they did with the EtG the claims of reliability are grand but without foundation. 
All speculative A=B oversimplified thinking that ignores the myriad other factors involved. The science is empty if you remove the dregs of filler and puff.  And the conflicts of interest are mind-boggling.

Corporate Front Groups and Corruption in Medicine-Forensic fraud, conflicts of Interest and the Erosion of Trust

The ASAM and FSPHP are corporate front groups that have infiltrated organized medicine and gained tremendous sway. Advancing the multi-billion dollar 12-step rehab and drug testing industry agenda control has replaced conduct and ideology has trampled science and reason. As organizations without transparency, accountability, or regulation they have become reservoirs of bad medicine and corruption.

Accountability is  rooted in organizational purpose and public trust.  Unfortunately, humanitarian ideals have been trampled by the imposition of corporate front groups who advance  hidden agendas under guises of science and scholarship  and patinas of benevolence.  Rife with conflicts of interest, these groups obfuscate, mislead, and exploit us to further an underlying political agenda.  Healthcare and medicine has been infiltrated by various groups that pose a serious threat to both the humanitarian and evidence based aspects.