Physician health programs: ‘Diagnosing for dollars’?

Screen Shot 2017-12-11 at 7.22.03 PM.pngScreen Shot 2017-12-11 at 7.19.03 PM.png

Source:  Clinical Psychiatry News

Please comment.

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

stethoscope with lots of money

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dr. Dinah Miller

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

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

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

Advertisements

The proposed advocacy for addicts provides an altruistic cover enabling the group to pursue legal, regulatory and healthcare public policy change on behalf of addiction treatment for self benefit.

Screen Shot 2016-09-30 at 3.40.29 PM.png

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

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

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

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

Screen Shot 2016-09-29 at 6.56.16 AM.png

Screen Shot 2016-09-29 at 6.56.36 AM.png

Propoganda, Truth and Credibility

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

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

Screen Shot 2014-06-11 at 12.24.47 PM
Mechanics and Mentality

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

–Labeling normal variations in behavior as pathological

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

–Forcing unneeded evaluations and treatments including forced committment

Pervasive and Serious Concerns

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

Profit Motive and Plans for Expansion

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

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

Infrastructure Already in Place 

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

screen-shot-2016-09-28-at-1-33-33-amCreating Bogus Risks of Danger

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

FSPHP/FASAM/LMD

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

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

Screen Shot 2015-05-30 at 12.47.51 AM

screen-shot-2016-09-30-at-1-34-17-pm

screen-shot-2016-09-30-at-1-35-39-pm

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

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

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

 

 

Screen Shot 2016-06-30 at 10.50.50 AMScreen Shot 2016-06-30 at 10.51.15 AMScreen Shot 2016-06-30 at 10.51.34 AM

Physician Suicide, Organizational Injustice and the Urgent Need for Open Discourse

They can be a terror to your mind and show you how to hold your tongue
They got mystery written all over their forehead
They kill babies in the crib and say only the good die young
They don’t believe in mercy
Judgement on them is something that you’ll never see
They can exalt you up or bring you down main route
Turn you into anything that they want you to be–Bob Dylan, Foot of Pride


Screen Shot 2015-04-30 at 2.55.32 AM

Although no reliable statistics yet exist, anecdotal reports suggest a marked rise in physician suicide in recent years. From the reports I am receiving it is a lot more than the oft cited “medical school class” of 400 per year.

This necessitates an evaluation of predisposing risk factors such as substance abuse and depression, but also requires a critical examination of what external forces may be involved in the descent from suicidal ideation to suicidal planning to completed suicide.  What are the cumulative situational and psychosocial factors in physicians that make suicide a potential option and what acute events precipitate the final act?

Depression and Substance Abuse no Different from General Population

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 indicate that physicians have the same rates (8-14%) of substance abuse and dependence as the general population,3 and slightly lower rates compared to other occupations.4,5 Epidemiological surveys reveal the same. Hughes, et al.6 reported 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

Job Stress and Untreated Mental Illness Risk Factors

Job stress coupled with inadequate treatment for mental illness may be factors contributing to physician suicide according to one recent study. Using data from the National Violent Death Reporting System, Gold, Sen, & Schwenk, 2013 8 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. 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.”8

Few studies have evaluated the psychosocial stressors surrounding physician suicide but there is no reason to believe they are any different from the rest of the population. Although the triggering life events and specific stressors may vary outside, the inner psyche and undercurrent of thoughts and feelings should remains the same.   Perhaps the same drivers of suicide identified in other populations are contributing to physician suicide.

Screen Shot 2014-04-04 at 1.05.46 AM

Perceived Helplessness, Hopelessness, Bullying and Defeat

Perceived helplessness is significantly associated with suicide as is9 Hopelessness10,11 Bullying is known to be a predominant trigger for adolescent suicide12-14 One study found that adolescents in custody who were bullied were 9.22 times more likely to attempt suicide than those were not bullied.15

Heightened perceptions of defeat and entrapment are known to be powerful contributors to suicide.16,17 The “Cry of Pain” model 18,19 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 a helplessness and hopelessness that precipitates the descent from ideation, to planning, and then to finality.

Organizational Justice Important Protective Factor

In a study on Italian and Swedish female physicians, degrading experiences and harassment at work were found to be the most powerful independent variables contributing to suicidal thoughts.20 Degrading work experiences harassment, and lack of control over working conditions were found to be associated with suicidal thoughts among Italian and Swedish male university physicians.21

Evidence exists for the role of rescue factors (i.e. social support) as buffers against suicide in the face of varying degrees of life stress.22,23 The study of female physicians revealed meetings to discuss stressful work experiences as a potential protective factor, 20 and support at work when difficulties arose appeared to be a protective factor for the male physicians.21   In line with this, studies of Finnish physicians found that control over one’s work and organizational justice were the most important determinants of work-related wellbeing.24,25 Organizational justice has been identified as a psychosocial predictor of health and wellbeing26 27 Low organizational justice has been identified as a notable risk factor for psychological distress and depression.28,29

images-4

Historical Precedent-the Suicides at Ridgeview

Could these factors be playing a role in physician suicide?   They evidently did at the Ridgeview Institute, a drug and alcohol treatment program for impaired physicians in Metropolitan Atlanta created by G. Douglas Talbott. Talbott helped organize and served as past president of the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) and was a formative figure in the American Medical Association’s (AMA’s) Impaired Physician Program. He has owned and directed a number of treatment facilities for impaired professionals, most recently the Talbott Recovery Campus in Atlanta, one of the preferred referrals for physicians ordered into evaluation and treatment by licensing boards.

After creating the DeKalb County Impaired Physicians Committee for the Medical Association of Georgia, Talbott founded the Georgia Disabled Doctors Program in 1975 in part because “traditional one-month treatment programs are inadequate for disabled doctors.” According to 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 others. He bases this uniqueness on “incredibly high denial”, and what he calls the “four MDs,” “M-Deity”, “Massive Denial” “Militant Defensiveness”, and “More Drugs.”30

Contingency Management = Extortion Using Medical License

According to Talbott, “impaired doctors must first acknowledge their addiction and overcome their ‘terminal uniqueness’ before they can deal with a drug or alcohol problem.” “Terminal uniqueness “ is a phrase Talbott uses to describe doctors’ tendency to think they can heal themselves. “M-Deity” refers to doctors “being trained to think they’re God,”31 an unfounded generalization considering the vast diversity of individuals that make up our profession. This attitude, according to some critics, stems from the personal histories of the treatment staff, including Talbott, who are recovering alcoholics and addicts themselves. One such critic was Assistant Surgeon General under C. Everett Koop John C. Duffy who said that Ridgeview suffered from a “boot-camp mentality” toward physicians under their care and “assume every physician suffering from substance abuse is the same lying, stealing, cheating, manipulating individual they were when they had the illness. Certainly some physicians are manipulative, but it’s naïve to label all physicians with these problems.”32

American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) President (1981-1983) LeClair Bissell was also highly critical of Talbott’s approach. Bissell, co-author of the first textbook of ethics for addiction professionals33 when asked if there was any justification to the claim that doctors are sicker than other people and more vulnerable to addiction replied:

“Well, based on my treatment experience, I think they are less sick and much easier to treat than many other groups. I think one reason for that is that in order to become a physician…one has to have jumped over a great many hurdles. One must pass the exams, survive the screening tests and the interviews, be able to organize oneself well enough to do examinations and so on, and be observed by a good many colleagues along the way. Therefore I think the more grossly psychotic, or sicker, are frequently screened out along the way. The ones we get in treatment are usually people who are less brain-damaged, are still quite capable of learning, are reasonably bright. Not only that, but they are quite well motivated in most cases to hang on to their licenses, the threat of the loss of which is frequently what puts them in treatment in the first place. So are they hard to treat? No! Are they easy patients? Yes! Are they more likely to be addicted than other groups? We don’t know.”34

“I’m not much for the bullying that goes along with some of these programs,” Bissell commented to the Atlanta Journal and Constitution in 1987.31   The constitution did a series of reports after five inpatients committed suicide during a four-year period at Ridgeview.35 In addition there were at least 20 more who had killed themselves over the preceding 12 years after leaving the treatment center.32

ByQiW11IYAI2Cit

Bissell, the recipient of the 1997 Elizabeth Blackwell Award for outstanding contributions to the cause of women and medicine remarked: “When you’ve got them by the license, that’s pretty strong leverage. You shouldn’t have to pound on them so much. You could be asking for trouble.”31According to Bissell: “There’s a lot of debate in the field over whether treatment imposed by threats is worthwhile…To a large degree a person has to seek the treatment on his own accord before it will work for him.”31

A jury awarded $1.3 million to the widow of one of the deceased physicians against Ridgeview,36 and other lawsuits initiated on behalf of suicides were settled out of court.35

The Constitution reported that doctors entered the program under threats of loss of licensure “even when they would prefer treatment that is cheaper and closer to home.” 37 The paper also noted that Ridgeview “enjoys unparalleled connections with many local and state medical societies that work with troubled doctors,” “licensing boards often seek recommendations from such groups in devising an approved treatment plan,” and those in charge are often “physicians who themselves have successfully completed Ridgeview’s program.”37

The cost of a 28-day program for nonprofessionals at Ridgeview in 1987 was $10,000 while the cost was “higher for those going through impaired-health professionals program,” which lasted months rather than 28 days.32

In 1997 William L. White interviewed Bissell whom he called “one of the pioneers in the treatment of impaired professionals.” The interview was not published until after hear death in 2008 per her request.   Noting her book Alcoholism in the Professions38 “remains one of the classics in the field”, White asked her when those in the field began to see physicians and other professionals as a special treatment population. She replied:

“When they started making money in alcoholism. As soon as insurance started covering treatment, suddenly you heard that residential treatment was necessary for almost everybody. And since alcoholic docs had tons of money compared to the rest of the public, they not only needed residential treatment, they needed residential treatment in a special treatment facility for many months as opposed to the shorter periods of time that other people needed.”39

Talbott claimed a “92.3 percent recovery rate, according to information compiled from a five-year follow-up survey based on complete abstinence and other treatment.”40

“There is nothing special about a doctor’s alcoholism,” said Bissel

“these special facilities will tell you that they come up with really wonderful recovery rates. They do. And the reason they do is that any time you can grab a professional person by the license and compel him or her into treatment and force them to cooperate with that treatment and then monitor them for years, you’ll get good outcomes—in the high 80s or low 90s in recovery rates—no matter what else you do.”39

“The ones I think are really the best ones were not specialized. There were other well-known specialty clinics that claimed all the docs they treated got well, which is sheer rot. They harmed a great many people, keeping them for long, unnecessary treatments and seeing to it that they hit their financial bottom for sure: kids being yanked out of college, being forced to sell homes to pay for treatment, and otherwise being blackmailed on the grounds that your husband has a fatal disease. It’s ugly.”39

Stanton Peele’s “In the Belly of the American Society of Addiction Medicine Beast” describes the coercion, bullying, threats and indoctrination that are standard operating procedure in Talbott’s facilities.41 Uncooperative patients, “and this covers a range of sins of commission or omission including offering one’s opinion about one’s treatment,” are “threatened with expulsion and with not being certified-or advocated for with their Boards.”41 The cornerstone of treatment is 12-step spiritual recovery. All new patients are indoctrinated into A.A. and coerced to confess they are addicts or alcoholics. Failure to participate in A.A. and 12-step spirituality means expulsion from the program with the anticipated result being loss of one’s medical license.

Screen Shot 2013-11-17 at 4.18.47 PM

Fraud, Malpractice, False Diagnoses and False imprisonment

In May 1999 Talbott stepped down as president of the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) as a jury awarded Dr. Leonard Masters a judgment of $1.3 million in actual damages and an undisclosed sum in punitive damages for fraud, malpractice, and the novel claim of false imprisonment.42 The fraud finding required a finding that errors in the diagnosis were intentional. After being accused of excessive prescribing of narcotics to his chronic pain patients, Masters was told by the director of the Florida PHP that he could either surrender his medical license until the allegations were disproved or submit to a four-day evaluation. Masters agreed to the latter, thinking he would have an objective and fair evaluation, but was instead diagnosed as “alcohol dependent” and coerced into the Talbott recovery program. He was forced to stay in the program under threat of his medical license as staff would routinely threaten to report any doctor who questioned any aspect of their diagnosis or treatment to their state medical boards “as being an impaired physician, leaving necessary treatment against medical advice”42  which would mean the loss of his licensure. However, Masters was not an alcoholic. According to his attorney, Eric. S. Block,  “No one ever accused him of having a problem with alcohol. Not his friends, not his wife, not his seven children, not his fellow doctors, not his employees, not his employers, No one.” 43  He was released 4 months later and forced to sign a five-year “continuing care” contract with the PHP, also under continued threat of his medical license. Talbott faced no professional repercussions and no changes in the treatment protocols were made. Talbott continued to present himself and ASAM as the most qualified advocate for the assessment and treatment of medical professionals for substance abuse and addiction up until his death last year.44

bullying2

Same System Imposed on Doctors Today—Institutional Injustice Worse due to Laboratory Developed Tests. Fortified Scaffold and Tightened the Noose.

In almost all states today any physician referred for an assessment for substance abuse will be mandated to do so in a facility just like Ridgeview. There is no choice. There is one difference however.   When the Ridgeview suicides occurred the plethora of laboratory developed tests were not yet introduced. A decade ago Dr. Gregory Skipper introduced the first laboratory developed test for forensic testing and used it on doctors in physician health programs.   These non-FDA approved tests of unknown validity presented a new unpredictable variable into the mix with a positive test necessitating another assessment at an out of state treatment facility—a “PHP-approved” assessment facility. The addition of this laboratory Russian Roulette renders the current system much worse than it was at the time of the Ridgeview suicides.

And if a positive test occurs there are no safeguards protecting the donor. LDTs are unregulated by the FDA. There is no oversight and no one to file a complaint with.

In addition the PHPs have no oversight by the medical boards, departments of health or medical societies. They police themselves. The PHPs have convinced law enforcement that when it comes to doctors it is a “parochial issue” best handled by the medical community. I have been hearing from doctors all over the country who have tried to report crimes to the local police, the state Attorney General and other law enforcement agencies only to be turned back over to the very perpetrators of the crimes. “He’s a sick doctor, we’ll take care of him.” The “swift and certain consequences” of this are an effective means of keeping the rest of the inmates silent.   Likewise doctors have been going to the media only to have the door slammed in their faces because the media has generally bought in to the “impaired” and “disruptive” physician construct these same people developed through propaganda, misinformation and moral panics and crusades.

tireddoctor

Urgent Need to Admit to the Problem

There has been an increase in physician suicide in the past decade.   By my estimate the numbers are going to be far higher than the oft-cited 400 per year. The speculation as to cause has been unenlightening and in fact frustrating.   Knowledge of anatomy, access to dangerous drugs, increased workload and even student loans have been proposed as contributing factors. Although there has been some tangential mention of physician health programs it has been indirect. Direct and defined discussion is necessary and state PHPs need to be named as a possible contributor to suicide.  Admitting the possibility there is a problem is the first crucial step in defining and addressing the problem.    The 1980s historical precedent is correlated with physician suicide.  The current system is not only based on Ridgeview but has been fortified in scope and power.  The physician health movement has effectively removed due process from doctors while removing answerability and accountability from themselves. And they have not only fortified the scaffold but widened it from substance abusing doctors to all doctors. “Potential impairment” and “relapse without use” were introduced without any meaningful resistance and they are now using a panoply of non-FDA approved laboratory developed tests of unknown validity to test for substances of abuse in a zero-tolerance abstinence based monitoring program.  With no regulatory oversight the stage is set not only for error but misuse as witch-pricking devices for punishment and control.  Doctors across the country are complaining of the very same abuses Leonard Masters did–false diagnoses, misdiagnosis, unneeded treatment and fraud.

In summary, any doctor who is referred to their state PHP today is required to have any assessment and treatment at a “PHP-approved” facility based on Ridgeview.  It is mandated.  There is no choice.  Coercion, control and abuse at Ridgeview was associated with multiple suicides in doctors in the 1980s.  The use of non-FDA approved tests of unknown validity worsens the abuse and fits the “cry of pain” model of hopelessness, helplessness and despair. Locus of control is  lost.  Organizational justice is absent.

The temporal relationship is clear.

Why is this still the elephant in the room?

This needs to be named, defined and openly discussed and debated.  How many more must die before we speak up?

Please help me get the conversation going.

images-34

  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. Gold KJ, Sen A, Schwenk TL. Details on suicide among US physicians: data from the National Violent Death Reporting System. General hospital psychiatry. Jan-Feb 2013;35(1):45-49.
  9. 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.
  10. Lester D, Walker RL. Hopelessness, helplessness, and haplessness as predictors of suicidal ideation. Omega. 2007;55(4):321-324.
  11. Beck AT. Hopelessness as a predictor of eventual suicide. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. 1986;487:90-96.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. Kim YS, Leventhal B. Bullying and suicide. A review. International journal of adolescent medicine and health. Apr-Jun 2008;20(2):133-154.
  15. Kiriakidis SP. Bullying and suicide attempts among adolescents kept in custody. Crisis.2008;29(4):216-218.
  16. 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.
  17. Lester D. Defeat and entrapment as predictors of depression and suicidal ideation versus hopelessness and helplessness. Psychological reports. Oct 2012;111(2):498-501.
  18. Williams JMG. Cry of Pain. Harmondsworth: Penguin; 1997.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. Borowsky IW, Ireland M, Resnick MD. Adolescent suicide attempts: Risks and protectors.Pediatrics. 2001;107(485).
  23. 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.
  24. 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.
  25. 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.
  26. 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.
  27. 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.
  28. 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.
  29. 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.
  30. Gonzales L. When Doctors are Addicts: For physicians getting Molly Kellogg is easy. Getting help is not. Chicago Reader. July 28, 1988, 1988.
  31. King M, Durcanin C. The suicides at Ridgeview Institute: A Doctor’s treatment program may be too tough, some say. Atlanta Journal and Constitution. December 18, 1987a, 1987: A12.
  32. Durcanin C, King M. The suicides at Ridgeview Institute: Suicides mar success at Ridgeview with troubled professionals. Atlanta Journal and Constitution. December 18, 1987, 1987: A13.
  33. Bissell L, Royce JE. Ethics for Addiction Professionals. Center City, Minnesota: Hazelden; 1987.
  34. Addiction Scientists from the USA: LeClair Bissell. In: Edwards G, ed. Addiction: Evolution of a Specialist Field. 1 ed: Wiley, John & Sons, Incorporated; 2002:408.
  35. Durcanin C. The suicides at Ridgeview Institute: Staff members didn’t believe Michigan doctor was suicidal. Atlanta Journal and Constitution. December 18, 1987, 1987: A8.
  36. Ricks WS. Ridgeview Institute loses $1.3 million in suit over suicide. Atlanta Journal and Constitution. October 11, 1987, 1987: A1.
  37. King M, Durcanin C. The suicides at Ridgeview Institute: Many drug-using doctors driven to Ridgeview by fear of losing licenses. Atlanta Journal and Constitution. December 18, 1987b, 1987: A1.
  38. Bissell L, Haberman PW. Alcoholism in the Professions. Oxford University Press; 1984.
  39. White W. Reflections of an addiction treatment pioneer. An Interview with LeClair Bissell, MD (1928-2008), conducted January 22, 1997. Posted at http://www.williamwhitepapers.com. 2011.
  40. Williams c. Health care field chemical dependency threat cited. The Tuscaloosa News. January 16, 1988, 1988: 16.
  41. Peele S. In the Belly of the American Society of Addiction Medicine Beast. The Stanton Peele Addiction Website (accessed March 28, 2014)http://web.archive.org/web/20080514153437/http://www.peele.net/debate/talbott.html.
  42. Ursery S. $1.3M verdict coaxes a deal for doctor’s coerced rehab. Fulton County Daily Report. May 12, 1999b 1999.
  43. Ursery S. I was wrongly held in alcohol center, doctor charges. Fulton Count y Daily Report. April 27, 1999a 1999.
  44. Parker J. George Talbott’s Abuse of Dr. Leon Masters MD (http://medicalwhistleblowernetwork.jigsy.com/george-talbott-s-abuse-of-leon-masters ).Medical Whistelblower Advocacy Network.
  45. images-10

crop0126

The Need for Antitrust Investigation of the “PHP Rehab Racket”

money1-richdoctor

Screen Shot 2015-03-06 at 4.38.05 AMThree shells and a pea–ASAM, FSPHP, and LMD.

“PHP-Approved” Assessment and Treatment Centers

On the above list  can be found the Medical Directors of a number of drug and alcohol rehabilitation facilities.

Talbott, Marworth, Hazelden, Promises, and another two-dozen or so “PHP-approved”  assessment and treatment centers are represented on this list.    State Physician Health Programs (PHPs) refer doctors to these facilities for evaluations.  PHPs are non-profit tax-exempt organizations.  They do not evaluate or treat patients.   If a physician is referred to a PHP for a suspected problem the assessment must be done at an outside facility which will invariably be linked to a name on the list of Like-Minded Docs.

What most people do not know, however, is that this is an exclusive arrangement.    Evaluations are constrained to one of these facilities.   It is mandated.   No bargaining.  No compromises. No choice.  In other words it is a coercion.

“What’s wrong with that?” some may ask.  These facilities are all recognized as top-drawer and first-class.  Perhaps they were hand-picked on objective criteria and the PHPs are just making sure that doctors get the best assessments money can buy– decision making by experts based on knowledge and experience–picking a winner so you don’t have to.

Screen Shot 2014-07-27 at 7.55.16 PM copy


No documented Policy for Selecting Treatment Centers.  Criteria for “PHP-Approval” Unknown by those “Approving”

What objective criteria are used in selecting “PHP-approved” assessment and treatment centers?    According to a  Performance Audit of the North Carolina Physicians Health Program done by State Auditor Beth A. Wood that’s a good question.

The Audit noted the predominant use of out-of-state treatment centers.   In addition to “creating an undue burden on” those being evaluated the

 “Program procedures did not ensure that physicians received quality evaluations and treatment because the Program had no documented criteria for selecting treatment centers and did not adequately monitor them”

In fact the audit found no documented policy for selecting treatment centers.  Those demanding documented policy for approval and doing the approving could not give an explanation for what any of  these things even mean.    

Screen Shot 2014-05-07 at 5.38.23 PMThe auditor also noted this lack of concrete criteria goes against both The Federation of State Physician Health Programs (FSPHP) and the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) requirements that physician health programs use established guidelines to select evaluation providers and treatment centers.

In its “Physician Health Program Guidelines,” the FSPHP established: • “Characteristics of Evaluation Providers Appropriate for PHP referrals,” and • “Characteristics of Treatment Programs which are appropriate for PHP referrals.”  And in its “Policy on Physician Impairment,” the FSMB states : • “PHPs should employ FSPHP Guidelines in selecting the providers/facilities to provide treatment of physicians with addictive and/or psychiatric illness.”

When the NC PHP was asked to define these characteristics they explained that they learned  of “new treatment centers through professional networks and other informal sources” and used the “treatment centers’ reputation as a basis for establishing a referral relationship.”      Staff credentials, quality of care, treatment methods and modalities, patient choice, follow-up data, outcomes and other objective information apparently took a back-seat to ill-defined and subjective word-on-the-street.   Screen Shot 2014-03-15 at 7.33.14 PM

This  “failure to use FSPHP  recommended criteria to select treatment centers,” the Audit concluded “could cause the Program to enter into referral arrangements with service providers that do not meet quality standards”

Ironically the  NC PHP failed to follow guidelines they themselves introduced and demanded be followed but could produce no documented criteria they existed.    They could not even provide plausible criteria.   Professional networks, reputation and other informal sources are fine for some choices.  That’s how I picked out my first skateboard.     These resources can play in important role in choosing a shirt, new sneakers or even a car but they do not constitute selection criteria for an assessment in which the consequences and recommendations made for the person being assessed are significant, potentially life-altering and possibly permanent!

And to top it off the  Medial Director of the North Carolina PHP,  Dr. Warren Pendergast,  was the  President of the FSPHP at the time of the audit.  PHPs are not clinical providers but monitoring agencies.  They meet with, assess and refer doctors for evaluations and and monitor doctors through drug and alcohol testing and the monthly reports of others.     As such the PHP is tasked with two jobs-referring doctors for evaluation and then monitoring them after they have been evaluated.  The fact that they could not produce the facts and reasoning of the very basis for which they exist is incomprehensible.   The President of the FSPHP being unable to define the selection criteria for approved and mandated facilities is like Anthony Bourdain being unable to explain the ingredients of an omelette.

To summarize, doctors in North Carolina were being forced by the PHP  to have evaluations at “PHP-approved” assessment and treatment centers but the PHP was unable to explain anything substantive in defining any of it.  Why?  Because no qualitative objective selection criteria exist.

“Reputation” obfuscates and confuses.  It does nothing to support or justify.    It is like answering “numbers” to the question what is 9 x 9.

And this is especially concerning when it is realized that these evaluations are limited to facilities and people  tied financially and ideologically to the groups and individuals who are mandating the referral.

Screen Shot 2014-02-18 at 11.06.35 PM

All of the “PHP-approved” assessment centers are represented by medical directors who belong to Like-minded docs-an admittedly  12-step steeped conservative fundamentalist faction of the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM).   And all of these facilities are private-pay rehabilitation centers that recommend doctors be treated three-times longer than the rest of the population.

Limiting assessment and recommendations to this close-knit  group of evaluators is a monopoly of force.  It is unethical if not criminal. And the fact that these are all heavily indoctrinated 12-step facilities also makes it a violation of the Establishment Clause of the 1st Amendment.  Moreover,  many of the medical directors at these facilities are also graduates of the same program in “recovery.”

And if it is looked at from this vantage point it is a system of  self-referral.  Self-referral harms patients and society as a whole.

It is a shell game that removes all choice and removes freedom, objectivity, fundamental fairness, autonomy and choice.


Antitrust law

American antitrust law was “designed to be a comprehensive charter of economic liberty aimed at preserving  free and unfettered competition as the mule of trade. It rests on the premise that the unrestrained interaction of competitive forces will yield the best allocation of our economic resources, the lowest prices, the highest quality and the greatest material progress, while at the same time providing an environment conducive to the preservation of our democratic political and social institutions” (29, p 4).

In this case it is a safe assumption that all doctors desire the “best possible” care and this requires objective and unbiased assessment and treatment when requested by Physician Health Programs.

Congress and the Supreme Court have made clear is that the “best” services are selected by  consumers when their choice is made in an open market free of restraints. Eventually the marketplace will determine the best medical care, not judges, juries, or even doctors (30, p 904).

PHPs are clearly bypassing patient choice.  In 2011 the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) issued a Public Policy Statement on coordination between PHPs, regulatory agencies, and treatment providers recommending  that  only “PHP approved” treatment centers be used in the assessment and treatment of doctors.  The state Medical Boards have accepted and adopted this policy and denying doctors requests for assessments at non “PHP-approved” facilities. Many have been sanctioned for resisting, protesting or even questioning this unlawful monopoly.  It is prohibition of patient choice.

The N.C. PHP is representative of most PHPs. This is not an exception but a rule.      PHPs are mandating assessments only at facilities they approve but cannot define or explain how these facilities are “approved”  Yet The ideological and financial conflicts of interest between the PHPs and their referral centers are self-evident.  Connect the dots.  

State medical boards are enforcing this mandate under threat of loss of licensure.   Your money or your life.

Federal Trade Commission

For these reasons an investigation by the Federal Trade Commission and Office of the Inspector General of the DHHS is necessary.  For those who have been abused by this unholy alliance I urge you to look at this list to see if the medical director of the facility at which you were evaluated is represented.

If so note it here.   My guess is almost everyone will find this correlation and representation in numbers would necessitate both state and Federal investigation.  If this were done it  could quickly transform a system of institutional injustice into one that allows choice.

Applying Antitrust law to the linkage of  PHPs  and “PHP approved” assessment and treatment centers is consistent with free-market law and theory.   Demanding accountability would provide a powerful deterrent to this type of unfettered abuse.

1. Northern Pacific Railway v U.S., 356 US I (1958).

.2.  Koefoot v American College of Surgeons. 652 F Supp 882 (ND Ill 1986).

Inquisition_10_Pushing_Off_Bridge

IMG_8301

Abuse Hidden Under a Veil of Benevolence: Bill Cosby, Physician Health Programs and Cognitive Dissonance

Fake ASAM ‘Doctors’ Push AA Cult For Profit.

The blue slides below are from a  presentation at the 2014 FSPHP spring meeting in Denver, Colorado and can be seen here.   The presentation was given by past FSPHP President Gary Carr, MD, Current FSPHP President Warren Prendergast, MD, West Virginia PHP Director Brad Hall, MD and Montana PHP Director Mike Ramirez, MS.

 

This needs to be seen as a "to-do" list.

This needs to be seen as a “to-do” list.

A.A. = ASAM = FSPHP 

The quote is from Alcoholics Anonymous and the full passage is as follows:

“We are convinced that a spiritual mode of living is a most powerful health restorative. We, who have recovered from serious drinking, are miracles of mental health. But we have seen remarkable transformations in our bodies. Hardly one of our crowd now shows any mark of dissipation.
      But this does not mean that we disregard human health measures. God has abundantly supplied this world with fine doctors, psychologists, and practitioners of various kinds. Do not hesitate to take your health problems to such persons. Most of them give freely of themselves, that their fellows may enjoy sound minds and bodies. Try to remember that though God has wrought miracles among us, we should never belittle a good doctor or psychiatrist. Their services are often indispensable in treating a newcomer and in following his case afterward.”–Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th Edition,  The Family Afterward

Federation of State Physician Health Program (FSPHP) physicians often quote A.A. because they are defined by A.A. in both mechanics and mentality.  The “impaired physician” movement began with evangelical recovered addict and alcoholic physicians whose recovery was based on 12- step spirituality.  As this group molded into the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) many of them found employment at 12-step rehabilitation facilities and others joined their state Physician Health Programs and organized under the FSPHP.   Their ability to make authoritative pronouncements on physician impairment is  based on their own claim to insiders knowledge of recovery as brandished in this A.A. passage which I find condescending toward the medical profession and oddly narcissistic.

This special knowledge, of course, was based on the chronic relapsing brain disease model with lifelong abstinence and participation in 12-step recovery.

These “miracles of mental health” joined their state PHPs and those who did not agree with their rigid inflexible views were removed.   Those with access to special secret knowledge were eventually able to outvote those with intelligence and open minds as this groupthink infested and eventually monopolized  PHPs.


 

It is important to understand that the ideology of  A.A. is the ideology of the ASAM is the ideology of the FSPHP 

Like all “front-groups” the ASAM purports to serve one agenda while in reality serving another.  The ASAM claims to be a “physician society with a focus on addiction and its treatment” According to their website their mission is to

  • increase access to and improve the quality of addiction treatment;
  • to educate physicians (including medical and osteopathic students), other health care providers and the public;
  • to support research and prevention;
  • to promote the appropriate role of the physician in the care of patients with addiction;
  • and to establish addiction medicine as a specialty recognized by professional organizations, governments, physicians, purchasers and consumers of health care services, and the general public

In order to accomplish this the  American Board of Addiction Medicine certifies doctors  to “provide assurance to the American public that Addiction Medicine physicians have the knowledge and skills to prevent, recognize and treat addiction.”

Ostensibly these are laudable goals that are almost universally endorsed.   The perceived organizational purpose and public persona are altruistic and humanitarian.  Treating addiction not only saves individual lives but improves the community.  It is for the common good.


 

Abuse Hidden Under Benevolence and Torture as Treatment

History reveals that all manner of abuse can lie underneath a patina of benevolence.   In the past few months alone we have both Bill Cosby and the  British Parliamentary pedophile ring as prototypical examples.  Both cases reveal a decades long coverup of allegations in which the abusers escaped little or no investigation into their alleged crimes. Abuse of power with a large gap between the power of the abuser and the powerlessness of the abused is a common denominator.  If the abuser endorses our own beliefs systems it creates a discord that promotes disbelief.  It does not fit.   Accusations are dismissed, deflected or otherwise suppressed.   Power effectively extinguishes the truth.  Disbelieved and delegitimized, information is suppressed, charges are not filed and law enforcement and the media turn a blinkered eye for decades. Indifference, disbelief, rationalization and cognitive dissonance prevent exposure and accountability. Hidden in plain site the truth was there and easy to find.  The problem was no one was looking. Most did not want to look.

It does not take much sleuthing to uncover what is beneath the veil of the American Society of Addiction Medicine.  The history, mentality and mechanics are well documented and reveal where they came from,  how they evolved and what they have planned.    It is a complicated web and hard to explain but once the pieces of the puzzle are fit together it is clear.  But it involves assembling a complex puzzle by finding the individual pieces scattered in disparate areas including the regulatory, clinical, administrative and professional niches of the medical profession,  Alcoholics Anonymous and 12-step related organization, public policy, all levels of the political arena and other areas. Once put together the portrait is clear.

In reality the ASAM is a political action group or special interest group that is designed to cement the chronic relapsing brain disease model with lifelong abstinence and spiritual recovery as the one and only treatment for addiction.   A.A. is used as the energy source of the operation.  By labeling addiction a “disease” requiring “treatment” in which someone is helpless they are able to dictate all aspects by coercion and control.  But in my opinion the A.A. ideology is just used as a ruse to support the multi-billion dollar drug and alcohol testing, assessment and treatment industry.  The zero-tolerance mindset of the “treaters” combined with the “helplessness” of the diseased enables them to erect a revolving door of testing, assessment and treatment that provides them with both control and a steady stream of money.

IMG_0873

 

The FSPHP mandates 12-step ideology on all doctors in a zero-tolerance system of abuse and control while at the same time putting out misinformation that the PHP programs are the “new paradigm.”  The page below is from the book Drug-Impaired Professionals by Robert Holman Coombs.

Screen Shot 2014-12-11 at 8.06.00 PM

This is they type of propaganda these groups have propagated.   What is described above is absurd and unrealistic but it is reported, reproduced and repeated to the point that it is accepted as the truth.

The majority of physicians referred to these programs are not even addicts. These programs of Zero-tolerance and 12-step indoctrination are based on coercion and control.  They are causing many doctors to die by suicide as they are feeling hopeless, helpless and defeated.    This portrayal of a group of blissful 12-stepping doctors over the moon because they found spirituality is nonsense.

But you will not find many doctors speaking out against them for fear of “contingency management.”  Disagreeing or even questioning PHP practices including the validity of 12-step can literally cost you your license.

I have spoken to multiple physicians and nurses and have encouraged them to tell their stories here but they are afraid of retribution and “unintended consequences.”  And who can blame them?

They can send you back to one of the “PHP-approved” facilities for “stinkin thinkin.”

Unfortunately the ASAM and FSPHP have successfully bamboozled others into believing they are true experts with noble intent.  They have bamboozled the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) to the point where they have gained autonomy and unrestrained managerial prerogative.    They essentially use the state Boards to impose sanction on doctors who they report doctors for “noncompliance” which includes disagreeing with or questioning mandated A.A  or refusing to admit you have a chronic relapsing brain disease when you in fact do not.    They are in fact imposing A.A. on doctors and forcing them to accept their thinking under threat of loss of licensure.  This  violates the Establishment Clause and is a very serious problem that is being ignored.  It is a slippery slope we are on.

The FSMB House of Delegates adopted an updated Policy on Physician Impairment at their 2011 annual meeting distinguishing “impairment” and “illness”  stating that Regulatory Agencies should recognize the PHP as their expert in all matters relating to licensed professionals with “potentially impairing illness” that predates impairment often by many years.”  

It also defines “relapse without use” as “behavior without chemical use that is suggestive of impending relapse.”Screen shot 2013-05-13 at 1.30.29 PM

G. Douglas Talbott defines  “relapse without use”  as  “emotional behavioral abnormalities” that often precede relapse or “in A. A. language –stinking thinking.”

The ASAM has  monopolized addiction treatment in the United States.  But what the FSPHP arm has done is far more sinister.   A.A. has effectively taken over regulatory medicine and the private lives of doctors as a form of social control.  A doctor can be referred to a PHP for virtually anything and if the PHP believes he or she is in need of an assessment it will be done by a “PHP-approved” facility which means it will be done by a 12-step facility.  The PHP selects who will be monitored and dictates every aspect of what that entails and the entire process is done within the confines of A.A. ideology.  It is a, in fact, a  rigged game as the medical directors of the PHP approved facilities can all be seen on this list of like-minded docs who refer to theselves as “trusted servants” and “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.”

A.A. is imposed  on doctors through the FSPHP.  The FSPHP political apparatus exerts a monopoly of force.    And the bottom line is that A.A. has taken over all aspects of “physician health” and is forcing doctors to accept doctrine that is perhaps helpful to a few, useless or unneeded for many, and harmful and sometimes lethal to others.  This is unacceptable and it needs to be recognized.


 

“New Paradigm” of Zero-Tolerance and 12-step Spirituality Based on “success” of PHP to Move to Other Occupations and Kids.

To move this “new paradigm” to other populations they had to gain control of the doctors first.  They have not only created a monopoly but buffered themselves from physicians who may disagree with what they are doing to others.  This current system essentially stifles them.

The power, immunity and impunity this group yields over doctors was done silently and with no opposition. It was done by sequential public-policy steps.  This is why anyone interested in civil liberties and human rights should recognize the menace this presents to society.   The scaffold is in place and they are just adding more nooses.  Just ask the airline pilots.  They plan to impose similar systems on teachers, students and athletes.

And this is all spelled out in the ASAM White Paper on Drug Testing.   What people need to realized is what is described therein is just a few public policy steps away from them.  The only organization they have to convince is the organization that regulates any type of professional license, employment or benefit.

Gaining regulatory sway in the medical field and control over individual doctors was necessary to move this model to other populations.  It is merely a stepping stone for things to come.  It is only a few public policy steps from us to you.

This impacts us all.   It enables control of research, public policy and public health.   It is a system that suppresses dissent and shapes conformity.  The FSPHP  encourages the confidential referral of outliers.

The ASAM is pro-drug war and anti-medical marijuana.  This essentially silences most doctors for fear of being recognized and being brought in.  I know many doctors who will not even talk about it in public.

This is fixed doctrine and will not change.

That is why the ACLU and other groups who promote civil rights, those who are against the drug war and anyone involved in Medical Marijuana need to step in.    These  groups need to recognize the reality of who these people are, what they have planned and understand why they need to be stopped.   They are currently not even in the public eye and by outward appearances they appear to be benign.   In truth they are malignant and rapidly metastasizing without any symptoms.

In Order to Stop This the Following Must be Done

1) get a team of epidemiologists/statisticians to attack the “evidence-base” and “research” that the ASAM/FSPHP has used to support their claims (junk science, pseudoscience, success of 12-step, etc) and do a Cochrane type meta-analysis that will show there is little to no basis for it.

2) Demand accountability of the PHPs. Assign accountability to the Medical Societies and Departments of Public Health. Demand they be accountable for state-contractors with the Medical Boards (many of whom are complicit–in Massachusetts the Board of Registration in Medicine is simply an extension of the state PHP-i.e. Like-minds.

3) Demand that the criminal activity taking place within these PHPs be addressed by law enforcement.

4) Demand the Attorney General enforce the rampant Establishment Clause Violations occurring with mass 12-step coercion.

5) Identify and expose the  backgrounds of many of the individuals involved including felons and double felons who reinvented themselves as “addiction medicine” doctors. Many of these individuals are repeat offenders with a history of manipulating the system who should have never had their licenses returned.  In my opinion the ASAM/FSPHP/LMD rigged system is an example of corporate psychopathy.  While corporate level psychopathy is estimated at around 3% the numbers here appear to be much higher if one looks at the moral disengagement, unethical decision making, lack of empathy and externalization of blame evident in their personal histories.

6) Correctly identify that this system of institutional injustice is responsible for the astronomical suicide rate in physicians. This is due to the fact that doctors who need help are not getting it for fear of being ensnared by the state PHP and those already ensnared are being subject to coercion, abuse, institutional injustice, degradation, dehumanization, delegitimization and civil and human rights abuses and that this is a public health emergency that needs to be addressed.

7) reveal the scam set up between the PHPs, rogue labs, and “PHP-preferred” assessment and treatment gulags.

8) show how this is only a few public policy steps from Doctors to Pilots to Teachers to students to kids. etc. etc.

This necessitates that we get the conversation going before it is too late.

B1A19yWIMAAQf7E

 

 

Screen Shot 2014-11-30 at 1.37.38 PM

Physician Suicide

Physician Suicide.

Physician Suicide 101:  Secrets, lies and solutions by Dr. Pamela Wible, M.D., is now featured on KevinMD.com.  Please read and comment!   We need to use this as a stepping stone to start discussing the Elephant in the room; state Physician Health Programs (PHPs) organized under the Federation of State Physician Health Programs.  These programs once served the dual purpose of helping sick doctors and protecting the public from harm.

Taken over by the “impaired physician” movement the current manifestation is one of absolute power and unrestrained managerial authority with no meaningful oversight, regulation or accountability.  It is a culture of institutional injustice that is preventing doctors from seeking help for fear of being ensnared and monitored by them.  Those being monitored by them are subject to bullying, abuse and forced 12-step indoctrination under threat of loss of licensure.  Many of these doctors do not even have an addiction or substance use disorder.   Situational factors, a “one-off” or even a false accusation can result in monitoring by these programs that encourage confidential referral for things such as being behind on medical charts.  Sham peer-review is rampant.32-640x472

Moreover, the authority bestowed on this group is both illegitimate and irrational. The mechanics and mentality of the Federation of State Physician Health Programs conforms to that of the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM). Although there are some Addiction Psychiatrists involved, the vast majority are  “specialists” in “Addiction Medicine.

The ASAM is not even recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties as a bona fide specialty. It is a Self-Designated-Medical-Specialty; an AMA term used to keep track of what any group of doctors is calling themselves.

Screen Shot 2014-11-29 at 11.04.53 AM

Dr. Gregory H. Miday (1982-2012) A Doctor who would have made this world a better place.

In fact, American Board of Addiction Medicine (ABMS) “board certification” is little more than a diploma mill.

Yet these “specialists” are now in charge of ALL things related to PHYSICIAN HEALTH.

Many of the physicians running these programs had their licenses revoked and got them back by claiming salvation through the good graces of Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12-step methodology. Many have felony convictions. Some have double felonies.

At best we have unqualified zealots. But one major problem I have heard over and over again from physicians forced into these programs is an absolute lack of justice, empathy and even civility by those in charge.

A note from Dr. Karen Miday whose son Greg died by suicide after having a Corona in Peurto Rico while on vacation:

Dr. Gregory H. Miday ( 1982-2012) My physician son died of suicide 2 years ago while being monitored by the Missouri PHP. When he called to notify them of his relapse (while vacationing in Puerto Rico) and his intent to admit himself to a local public treatment center (decision made in consultation with his psychiatrist during an office visit that morning) the PHP said they did not approve of the plan. They told him to come speak with them instead. He chose otherwise. His phone calls to the PHP were the last ones he ever made. Clearly, he did not see them as benevolent. I sincerely doubt that he is their only casualty. Yet, where are the statistics? How many others have died under their watch. Strangely, the clinical director ( an RN, and likely recovering addict) told my husband that no internal review of my son’s case was planned. Such reviews after a suicide are mandatory at every public mental health facility I have practiced at. Our best and our brightest are being subjected to substandard care without any oversight or accountability. I can’t bring my son back. I do hope, however, that others will join me in an effort to pull the curtain back on these programs and perhaps save other lives. Karen Miday, MD, Cincinnati, OH

Misconduct, fraud, and even crimes are being reported.

Perhaps the 12-step salvation is just a ruse for some of them; a convenient cloak under which to hide all manner of abuse with impunity and immunity.

These individuals have been granted unrestrained managerial prerogative and absolute power over doctors. They decide not only who to monitor but how that monitoring proceeds in every last detail. Our fates, literally, lie in the hands of this group. No more physicians should die by this system of institutional injustice, bullying and pseudoscience. The conflicts-of-interest are abhorrent and would be incomprehensible in any other venue.

Isn’t it time we take charge? And the solution is fairly simple.

Oversight, regulation, and auditing by OUTSIDE groups. That is how it’s done everywhere else. Why do these guys get a pass?  Why would anyone be against procedural fairness and transparency in any situation? These are legitimate questions.

State Medical Societies, Departments of Public Health, the American Medical Association, the American Council on Graduate Medical Education, the Institute of Medicine and other Accreditation and Professional Organizations need to start addressing this.

This is a Public Health Emergency that is not going away.  It needs to be addressed directly and with urgency; not with kid gloves and temporization.

Accountability is without exception.  It requires both the provision of information and justification for actions.   Accountability also requires consequences for actions if they breach standards-of-care, ethics and the law.

 Hopefully this article will succeed in framing certain questions for the medical profession; questions that we all need to think about now before the door closes for good.

Physician Suicide 101: Secrets, Lies & Solutions by Pamela Wible, M.D.

Physician Suicide, the “Impaired Physician Movement” and ASAM:  The Dead Doctors at Ridgeview Institute under G. Douglas Talbott, by Michael Langan, M.D.

Disrupted Physician 101.3 –“For What it’s Worth”— The ASAM/ABAM Diploma Mill

ABAM Diploma Mill

Proof of Expertise or License to kill!

Disrupted Physician 101.3 –“For What it’s Worth”— The ASAM/ABAM Diploma Mill.

I can think of no other specialty or subspecialty in the profession of medicine where non-existent expertise can be incontestably announced and implemented.  If I claimed to be an ace neurosurgeon or an expert otolaryngologist and started practicing my claimed skills in the hospital I would be called on it pretty quick by both colleagues and patients–deemed a delusional fraud and run out on a rail within a week.

Yet doctors who have not met the usual and customary standards of  professional and educational quality and core competencies collectively and summarily identified  for medical specialties and subspecialties by the American Board of Medical Specialties, American Council on Graduate Medical Education and Institute of Medicine are able to claim “expertise”  in “addiction medicine” and everybody just lets them.

Screen Shot 2014-11-24 at 9.24.57 AM

As an experiment to prove this hypothesis I sat for the 2010 American Board of Addiction Medicine (ABAM) Certification Exam.

I have absolutely no training or education in the field of addiction medicine.  I didn’t pick up a book or study anything. I did not prepare at all.   I went to the testing facility and finished the test within an hour and a half and below is my score.  I passed it by a large margin with a score of 459 (passing score is > 394).  

 

Aced it!

Aced it!

I am no expert in Addiction Medicine; Point being neither is 4000 of me.

The validity and reliability of opinions lie in their underlying methodology and evidence base. Reliance on the personal authority of any expert or group of experts is the fallacy of appeal to authority.

I have asthma but that does not make me a Pulmonologist.  That addiction “specialist” diagnosing and treating you may have 5 years prior been a proctologist; and maybe not even a very good one at that.

Somewhere there may be doctor with no post-graduate training in surgery wielding a scalpel and calling himself an expert surgeon, but it is difficult to imagine that he is a very good one.

Screen Shot 2014-11-24 at 12.18.00 AM

Dr. Allwissend 01

images-2

Utilizing the Medical Profession as a Urine Collection Agency–The ASAM White Paper on Drug-Testing

“The rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened.” ― John F. Kennedy

Before the  2012 Drug and Alcohol Testing Industry Association (DATIA) annual conference, Dr. Robert Dupont delivered a speech entitled “Drug Testing and the Future of American Drug Policy.”    He describes a “New Paradigm” for substance abuse treatment that enforces “zero tolerance for alcohol and drug use”  that is enforced by monitoring with frequent random drug and alcohol tests in which positive tests are “met with swift, certain, but not draconian, consequences.” The paradigm is based on the current Physician Health Programs blueprint.  Dupont states:

“…physician health programs , have set the standard for effective use of drug testing. These pioneering state programs provide services to health care professionals with substance use disorders. The programs are run by physicians, some of whom in recovery themselves. PHPs feature relatively brief but highly focused treatment followed by active lifelong participation in the 12-step fellowships of Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. The key to the success of the PHP system of care management is the enforcement of the standard of zero tolerance for any alcohol or other drug use by intensive long-term random testing for both alcohol and drugs with swift and certain consequences for even a single use of alcohol or any other drugs of abuse. PHPs use drug panels of 20 or more drugs. The PHPs commonly use EtG and EtS tests to detect recent alcohol use. Similar comprehensive programs have been developed for commercial pilots and attorneys. These innovative programs of care management produce unprecedented long-term, outcomes.”

Physician Health Programs use a doctor’s medical license as “leverage” in what they call “contingency management.”   What this means is that a doctor who is being monitored by a PHP must comply with any and all demands of the PHP under threat of being reported to the state Medical Board and loss of licensure. Dupont wants to extend the PHP model to other populations including kids.

The 2013 American Society of Addiction Medicine White Paper on Drug Testing describes the organizational structure of the “New Paradigm” which includes utilization of the medical profession as a urine collection agency for their drug and alcohol testing. When a doctor-patient relationship exists the testing is rendered “clinical” rather than “forensic.” Thus the consequences of a positive test can be deemed “treatment” rather than punishment. This bypasses the strict chain-of-custody and Medical Review Officer requirements designed to ensure accuracy and minimize false-positives.  Forensic drug testing is tightly regulated because the results a positive test can be grave and far reaching.  Erroneous results are unacceptable.

Screen Shot 2014-11-04 at 8.25.02 PM

The ASAM paper describes mandated drug-testing for patients in a number of specialties including adolescent medicine, psychiatry, obstetrics, and geriatrics.  Contingency management will involve “the potential for loss of current or desired employment, or threatened loss of or restrictions on a professional or commercial license, or legal and forensic necessity.”
“This White Paper encourages wider and “smarter” use of drug testing within the practice of medicine and, beyond that,broadly within American society. Smarter drug testing means increased use of random testing* rather than the more common scheduled testing,* and it means testing not only urine but also other matrices such as blood, oral fluid (saliva), hair, nails, sweat and breath when those matrices match the intended assessment process. In addition, smarter testing means testing based upon clinical indication for a broad and rotating panel of drugs rather than only testing for the traditional five-drug panel.”

As onerous, unwarranted and unjust as this future dystopia sounds it may very well come to fruition.    Across the country doctors have been going to the media, law enforcement, and the ACLU complaining of ethical breaches, civil rights violations, abuse and criminal activity only to be turned a deaf ear.   The Federation of State Physician Health Programs has been able to construct this scaffold with no meaningful opposition and below the public radar. They have done this by removing accountability at all levels.  By preventing access to information and erecting a system without oversight no consequences exist to deter misconduct and abuse.  The same tactics and strategies will be used as they expand this to other populations.

American Society of Addiction Medicine, The Federation of State Physician Health Programs, and Like-Minded Docs 

“With one arm around the shoulder of religion and the other around the shoulder of medicine, we’d resolve their differences. Having learned to live so happily, we’d show everybody else how. Why, we thought, our Society of Alcoholics Anonymous might prove to be the spearhead of a new spiritual advance! We might transform the world”.–Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions 1953  A.A. World Services

The American Society of Addiction Medicine exists to trump the 12-step chronic relapsing brain disease model of addiction as defined by A.A.   The authoritarian view necessitates the authority maintain authority so everything is engineered around that goal.

The American philosopher Eric Hoffer noted:

“The only way to predict the future is to have power to shape the future. Those in possession of absolute power can not only prophesy and make their prophecies come true, but they can also lie and make their lies come true.” 

The PHP model is built on the very foundation Hoffer describes.

“Addiction Medicine” not a recognized medical specialty.

This begins with the ASAM itself.  “Addiction Medicine” and ABAM “board certification” is not recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties.  The requirements for this self-certification are not commensurate with ABMS certifications and only requires a medical license and board certification in ANY specialty.

Dubious Drug Testing-Not FDA approved, Conflicts-of-Interest

Federal workplace drug testing is done in accordance with mandatory guidelines. This testing is regulated using FDA approved tests with established sensitivity, specificity, and cutoff levels.  FDA approval requires rigorous research and proven validity.    The FDA requires valid scientific evidence (with both clinical and analytical validation)     The  FSPHP has introduced non-FDA drug testing via a loophole that removes accountability.  The EtG, EtS, and PEth tests were introduced as  Laboratory Developed Tests (LDTs) with little evidence base.  The LDT pathway was developed for “clinical” tests of low market potential that would not otherwise make it to market as the FDA approval process would be prohibitive.  An LDT  does not even require in vivo testing or proof that the test actually tests for what it s claimed to test.   Without FDA oversight, however, the labs can claim anything they want with no accountability.   After getting the labs to develop the tests the FSPHP then convinced the Medical Boards they were both necessary and accurate and began using them on doctors in PHP programs.

Changing Public Policy and Regulatory Authority to Increase Power and avoid Accountability

The 2011 FSMB Policy on Physician Impairment identifies, defines, and essentially legitimizes “potential impairment” and “relapse without use.”

A PHP Should be empowered to conduct an intervention based on clinical reasons suggestive of potential impairment.  Unlike the Board which must build a case capable of withstanding
legal challenge, a PHP can quickly intervene based on reasonable concern."

“Empowered” to conduct an “Intervention” for reasons “suggestive” of “potential” impairment means a doctor can be pulled out of practice for anything.  It essentially gives them carte blanche authority. The disregard for physician rights, due process and validity is self-evident.

in 2011 The ASAM issued a Public Policy Statement on coordination between PHPs, regulatory agencies, and treatment providers recommending  that  only “PHP approved” treatment centers be used in the assessment and treatment of doctors.  A recent audit of the  North Carolina PHP found financial conflicts of interest and no  documented criteria for selecting the out of state treatment centers they used.  The common denominator the audit missed was that the 19  “PHP-approved” centers were all ASAM facilities whose medical directors can be seen on this list.

The FSMB House of Delegates adopted an updated Policy on Physician Impairment at their 2011 annual meeting distinguishing “impairment” and “illness”  stating that Regulatory Agencies should recognize the PHP as their expert in all matters relating to licensed professionals with “potentially impairing illness.”

According to the FSPHP, physician illness and impairment exist on a continuum with illness typically predating impairment, often by many years.”

The policy extends PHP authority to cover physical illnesses affecting cognitive, motor, or perceptive skills, disruptive physician behavior, and “process addiction” (compulsive gambling, compulsive spending, video gaming, and “workaholism”). It also defines “relapse without use” as “behavior without chemical use that is suggestive of impending relapse.”

G. Douglas Talbott defines  “relapse without use”  as  “emotional behavioral abnormalities” that often precede relapse or “in A A language –stinking thinking.”  AA language has entered the Medical Profession and no one even blinked.  It will get worse.

The ASAM has  monopolized addiction treatment in the United States.   It has imposed  it on doctors through the FSPHP.  The FSPHP political apparatus exerts a monopoly of force. It selects who will be monitored and dictates every aspect of what that entails.  It is a, in fact, a  rigged game.

The Need for Regulation, Oversight, and Accountability

Accountability is necessary to prevent corruption and requires both the provision of information and justification for actions. What was done and why?   Accountability also necessitates consequences-the ability of outside actors to punish and sanction those who commit the misconduct.  Without these constraints corruption is inevitable.

In  2012 Drs. John Knight and Wes Boyd recommended the medical community outside of PHPS provide oversight and demand accountability.  As with the NC PHP audit,   Ethical and Managerial Considerations Regarding State Physician Health Programs  generated little interest from the medical community at large.

Because addiction is currently defined as a disease, addicts must be “treated” (which in the United States is more often coercive than voluntary), and “cured” (which is defined as remaining abstinent). When the disease concept is not strictly reserve for medical conditions but is expanded to any and all drug and alcohol use.

And this is how the ASAM “New Paradigm” will encroach upon others.  This is why the ACLU needs to get involved. This is not just about doctors but about the future of society.

The ASAM white paper contains the following quote minimizing the critical role of the MRO in drug testing.   They feel clinical testing is good enough.   And unless you want mandated random drug and alcohol testing at your physician visits using non-FDA approved testing with swift and certain consequences you will need to speak up.   This occurred in the medical profession rapidly and with little notice. And that is how it will occur in other venues.

Unlike forensic drug testing where the test results must be able to meet rules of evidence in administrative, civil or criminal proceedings, clinical drug testing* is part of a patient examination performed by a clinician with whom the patient is in a therapeutic relationship. The testing is used for the purposes of diagnosis, treatment, and the promotion of long-term recovery. Clinical drug test results must meet the established standards of medical practice and benefit the therapeutic relationship, rather than meeting the formal legal requirements of forensic testing. Drug testing in medicine employs the same sound procedures, safeguards, and systems of information management that are used for all other health-related laboratory tests, tests on which life-and death medical decisions are commonly made.

State Physician Health Programs have no meaningful oversight or accountability.  Across the country doctors are reporting ethical and civil rights abuses and even criminal activity to law enforcement, the ACLU and the media.  With the exception of North Carolina their complaints were patently ignored.  Feeling hopeless, helpless, defeated and entrapped many are killing themselves.   Institutional justice is a protective factor for preventing suicides.  None exists here.  The North Carolina PHP audit  revealed conflicts-of-interest and no oversight by the state medical society or board.   The audit also found that abuse could occur undetected because of this lack of accountability.

There seems to be a willful ignorance or apathy regarding PHPs.  Perhaps most take the side of the PHPs complacent that these are just helping sick doctors and protecting the public the complaints are nothing more than “bellyaching.”       In reality the misconduct and abuse perpetrated by the PHPs is commensurate with the behavior of Dr. Farid Fata,  the Detroit Oncologist who intentionally misdiagnosed patients with cancer so he could make money off unnecessary chemotherapy treatment.  Dr. Fata’s egregious betrayal of trust and unconscionable acts generated a flurry of comments.  His vile acts resulted in an appropriate response.

The exact same misconduct is being perpetrated by PHPs but being overlooked, justified or otherwise ignored.  Dr. Fata intentionally misdiagnosed patients with cancer who did not have cancer so he could give them chemotherapy to make money.   PHPs are intentionally misdiagnosing substance abuse and behavioral disorders in physicians who do not have them in order to give them unneeded treatment and force them into monitoring contracts to both make money and gain control.

It undermines the very integrity of the profession.  It is particularly vile when the betrayal of trust involves doing the opposite of what was entrusted.   Abuse of positions of power, trust and influence in the field of medicine need to be both prevented, recognized and addressed.    Oversight, regulation and accountability are essential  if this is going to be accomplished.  There are no exceptions.   Policies and procedures must be enforced in a consistent manner.

The medical boards, medical societies, and departments of health have given the state PHPs carte blanche control and absolute power.  They will not even investigate misconduct or even crimes.

And the PHPs have convinced law enforcement that this is a parochial matter.  Doctors reporting crimes are often turned back over to the PHP.

This refusal to investigate  or even acknowledge valid and factual complaints of professional misconduct has not only prevented the exposure of  wrongdoing and corruption but deepened it.    How does wrongdoing and corruption serve the best interests of the public or promote public health?  It doesn’t.    How could  a culture that protects the perpetrators of unethical and indefensible misconduct yet turns a deaf ear to their victims possibly contribute to the common good? It can’t.  And giving  an oppressive, illegitimate and irrational tyranny absolute power and granting them unrestrained managerial prerogative over doctors is fallacy.

“Every time we turn our heads the other way when we see the law flouted, when we tolerate what we know to be wrong, when we close our eyes and ears to the corrupt because we are too busy or too frightened, when we fail to speak up and speak out, we strike a blow against freedom and decency and justice.”
Robert F. Kennedy

 

aaadrugtest

Screen Shot 2014-04-20 at 6.38.20 AM