Psych Crime Reporter

July 28, 2014

St. Paul’s Hospital (Vancouver) attempts to play down stabbings committed by their of their discharged patients

Filed under: inpatient treatment,involuntary commitment,psychiatric hospital or facility — Psych Crime Reporter @ 9:26 am

VANCOUVER — St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver is defending its record for treating psychiatric cases, even though three recently discharged patients have been arrested for violent crimes in the last year.

The downtown hospital released recommendations Thursday from an internal review that was launched after 35-year-old Nicholas Osuteye of Alberta was charged with three counts of attempted murder for his alleged attacks on women aged 63, 79 and 87 last December. He had seen emergency room doctors at St. Paul’s two days earlier after asking police for help.

The latest review follows a more sweeping, independent report prompted by attempted-murder charges against Mohamed Amer, who allegedly stabbed a 71-year-old man in a café on Feb. 21, 2012. The homeless man, 30 at the time, had been taken to St. Paul’s by police for assessment under the Mental Health Act twice that day, but was released both times.

Then in January of this year, a stabbing spree in a West End apartment building resulted in French national Jerome Bonneric, 33, being charged with 12 counts of assault. Bonneric’s lawyer has said his client suffers from mental health problems and had been to St. Paul’s shortly before the attack.

But Dr. Maria Corral, head of psychiatry at St. Paul’s, said the hospital has far more success stories than tragic ones.

“There are many ways to treat psychiatric illness and mental illness problems,” she said in an interview. “By far the most common and effective is to treat them in the community by outpatient means. We had 4,500 psychiatric patients (through the emergency department last year) … the majority of those patients are managing very well in the community as our neighbours, our friends, our brothers, our mothers.”

She emphasized that hospital staff will hold anyone — even against their will — if they are considered a threat to themselves or others. St. Paul’s has 60 beds in its psychiatric ward and a four-bed secure observation unit in the emergency department.

The hospital serves Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside and a larger than average number of people who have mental health problems, drug addiction, low incomes and inadequate housing.

“I want to assure the public that I’m very confident in our treatment team and in the processes we have in place to deliver safe psychiatric care to all the patients who visit St. Paul’s,” Corral insisted.

But Darrell Burnham, executive director of Coast Mental Health, says that St. Paul’s has been trying to cope with a flood of psychiatric patients for years and there aren’t enough places for discharged patients to go.

“I think it’s safe to say their emergency ward is overwhelmed with the number of mental health crises it sees on a daily basis and this has been going on for many years, at least 12. They’re in the unenviable position of deciding who is the most in need today … Every once in a while, despite their best efforts, they’re going to make that call wrong.”

Coast Mental Health is a not-for-profit charity that runs group homes and supported living apartments for about 800 people in Vancouver. While more spaces are being created for mentally ill people to get help from health and support workers outside of hospitals, there still aren’t enough, said Burnham.

“It’s because Vancouver is the end of the road and it’s also because people’s living situations are less supported. There are a lot of folks coming out of SROs (single-room occupancy hotels) and shelters and literally off the street … If you’re discharging someone to a loving family to care for them that’s far better from a hospital point of view rather than discharging them to a shelter or literally to nowhere.”

All of the accused are in custody awaiting trial and no one was killed in any of the incidents.

At least one of the women beaten in December is still in hospital, as is one of the victims from the Jan. 31 stabbings, according to Vancouver police department spokesman, Const. Brian Montague.

Source: Erin Ellis, “St. Paul’s Hospital defends record after three discharged psychiatric patients arrested for violence,” Vancouver Sun, March 1, 2013.

July 25, 2014

E. Texas psychiatrist charged with trafficking Indian women for sex, forced labor

Filed under: human trafficking,psychiatrist,sexual exploitation — Psych Crime Reporter @ 7:37 pm

TYLER, TX (KLTV) – An East Texas psychiatrist has been arrested and charged in connection with what’s being described as a ‘forced labor conspiracy’ in New York.

Riyaz Mazcuri, was arrested Thursday by the Gregg County Sheriff’s Office and booked in the jail on a federal warrant.

According to documents from the federal court in the Southern District of New York, Mazcuri, known as ‘The Doctor,’ was indicted along with three other men accused of organizing a human trafficking organization.

Mazcuri is a psychiatrist who has practiced in Texas for several years in Houston and most recently at a facility in Kilgore.

Federal court documents state the men would hire female dancers in India under the assumption they would perform cultural programs in the United States. Prosecutors allege when they would get to the U.S., the women would be forced to dance in nightclubs in front of men for twelve to fourteen hours per night, seven nights a week. Some of the performers were reportedly engaged in prostitution. The men would reportedly force the women to perform by confiscating their passports and by threatening them with physical violence.

The group reportedly operated in New York and in other locations from 2008 to 2010.

According to jail records, Mazcuri has a Houston address. He was ordered into the custody of the U.S. Marshals until a detention hearing, scheduled for July 29 in Tyler.

Mazcuri’s attorney, listed as Joel Androphy of Houston, was unable to be reached Friday for comment regarding on his client’s arrest.

Source: Cody Lillich, “E. Texas psychiatrist arrested, accused of trafficking Indian women for forced labor, prostitution,” KLTV-7 (www.kltv.com), July 25, 2014. 

Alaska psychiatrist indicted for $300,000 Medicaid fraud

Filed under: Medicaid-Medicare fraud,psychiatrist — Psych Crime Reporter @ 7:35 pm

An Anchorage grand jury indicted a physician Thursday on multiple felony charges accusing him of fraudulently billing Medicaid, tampering with physical evidence and misconduct involving a controlled substance.

Charging documents accuse Dr. Shubhranjan Ghosh, 39, of billing Medicaid more than $300,000 for services he never provided. During Ghosh’s bail hearing in April, reports of a conversation that the doctor had with an employee wearing a wire revealed that the overpayments from the government program may have exceeded $1 million.

The most accurate dollar figure will remain veiled until the state Department of Law releases a completed audit. By Friday, the document had not been made public, said Andrew Peterson, director of the state Medicaid Fraud Control Unit.

Ghosh, a psychiatrist who specializes in mental health services for children, was out of jail on $200,000 cash bail Friday and scheduled to appear in Anchorage Superior Court at 1:45 p.m. Monday. He wears an ankle monitor and cannot leave the city, Peterson said. Peterson said Ghosh is still practicing medicine but cannot bill Medicaid.

The multi-agency investigation into Ghosh’s South Anchorage office began in September. Charges say that Ghosh, a sole practitioner, worked with his office manager to fraudulently bill Medicaid for three years starting in 2010. He made false charges for people including his office manager’s seven children and his ex-girlfriend’s children.

The office manager told an employee that Ghosh submitted false billings to cover time spent on tasks like answering phone calls and writing emails for Medicaid-related cases, services he was not compensated for. The employee estimated the offices submitted five fraudulent bills each week, charges say.

At the April bail hearing, Peterson told the court that Ghosh had a prescription drug problem and wrote multiple opiate prescriptions for friends. Most of the 15 controlled substance charges he faces stem from the delivery of hydrocodone.

Ghosh’s office manager has not been charged but Peterson said the investigation is ongoing.

Since October 2012, the state says, it has ramped up efforts to combat Medicaid fraud and abuse.

Recently, the state uncovered more than $628,000 in alleged Medicaid fraud at Good Faith Services, charging 45 people connected to the personal care provider. In January, the state prosecuted an employee with the Municipality of Anchorage who falsely billed Medicaid for more than $64,000 in personal care attendant services.

Source: Tegan Hanlon, “Anchorage physician indicted for Medicaid fraud topping $300,000,” Alaska Dispatch, July 25, 2014.

July 18, 2014

Psychiatrist Curtis Steele loses license over teen nude photo allegations

Filed under: Uncategorized — Psych Crime Reporter @ 2:57 pm

A former psychiatrist who practised in Halifax and taught at Dalhousie University will never practise over allegations that he took nude photos of a teenage patient.

Curtis Steele agreed to give up his licence after an investigation by the province’s College of Physicians and Surgeons.

Steele practised in the province from his move to Nova Scotia in 1988 until 2013. In 2013, one of his former patients filed a complaint against him with the College of Physicians and Surgeons.

The patient was 14 years old when she started seeing Steele in 2003. The decision from the college says one of the girl’s parents worked with Steele and considered him a friend.

A committee that investigated the complaint found a number of concerns about Steele’s behaviour, including Steele allegedly taking nude photographs of his 14-year-old patient, as well as prescribing the drug Paxil without a supporting diagnosis.

“Dr. Steele lacked the necessary insight expected of a psychiatrist in failing to immediately recognize the impropriety of taking the photographs,” the college ruling says.

“The allegations are serious and profoundly disturbing.” – Dr. Gus Grant, College of Physicians and Surgeons

Steele has agreed to the terms of the college’s settlement to stop practising medicine and never apply for a licence again.

He will also have to pay $5,000 to help cover the college’s costs of the investigation. Steele admitted to professional misconduct, but not necessarily the facts outlined in the agreement.

The college released its decision Wednesday morning.

“I can’t imagine complaints of a more serious nature,” said Dr. Gus Grant, the registrar and CEO of the college. “The allegations are serious and profoundly disturbing.”

Grant says the incident could lead to charges.

“The nature of the allegations that the college considered are serious and potentially will involve the criminal court system,” he said.
Two more complaints outstanding

Meanwhile, Steele still faces two complaints from former patients, including another case filed by the patient who was 14 years old when he treated her in 2003.

A second case, filed last year, alleges Steele made inappropriate sexual advances toward a male patient using a dildo.

Steele practised at the Community Mental Health Clinic at the Capital District Health Authority, as well as at a small private practice.

Steele was also a faculty member at Dalhousie University’s Department of Psychiatry, but retired in 2013. He hadn’t taught medical students in over a decade, says Dalhousie spokeswoman Allison Gerrard.

Source: “Curtis Steele loses psychiatry licence over nude photo allegations,” CBC News, July 16, 2014.

July 16, 2014

Prison psychologist Bobbie Bergmeier guilty of affair with convicted murderer

Filed under: prison psychologist,sexual abuse,sexual exploitation — Psych Crime Reporter @ 7:31 pm

SHE thought he was “sexy” and wanted to be with him forever. The only problem was she was his psychologist and he was a convicted murderer.

Bobbie Bergmeier met the inmate — who can be referred to only as Client A — after she began working as a psychologist at Junee Correctional Centre in the NSW Riverina region in April 2010.

At the time, Client A was serving the final years of his 21-year sentence for murder and malicious wounding.

The Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC) alleges Ms Bergmeier began having intimate telephone conversations with him, declaring “she loved him and couldn’t wait to be with him” and “he was sexy and she wanted him forever”.

She resigned from the prison job in August 2011 but continued to stay in contact with him, visiting his family and friends, and applying to be his sponsor for weekend leave.

Client A was serving the final years of a 21 year sentence for murder and malicious wound

In a bid to cover up her relationship, Ms Bergmeier also used a colleague’s password to log into Client A’s case notes and change them to create “distance” between herself and him, the HCCC alleged.

In a judgment handed down on Wednesday, the Civil and Administrative Tribunal NSW found her guilty of professional misconduct, saying she “has been involved in a serious boundary violation and placed her client at risk”.

Although Client A was serving time for murder, the tribunal said he had been in jail all of his adult life with little opportunity to explore relationships.

He was “needy and dependent and psychologically vulnerable”, it heard.

Asked why she didn’t end the relationship when the stakes were so high, Ms Bergmeier told the tribunal her feelings were “so strong” that she didn’t think to.

The relationship started in prison but Client A and Ms Bergmeier are believed to still be

The relationship started in prison but Client A and Ms Bergmeier are believed to still be seeing each other. Picture:

Ms Bergmeier said she accepted responsibility for her actions and acknowledged that what she did was wrong.

She understood her conduct had breached her professional code of ethics.

The tribunal cancelled her registration, saying: “Her insight into the seriousness of her conduct and its impact on her client, her colleagues and the profession as a whole remains questionable.” Client A was released on parole in March.

Ms Bergmeier is now enrolled in a degree in primary school teaching at Charles Sturt University.

It is believed the pair are continuing to see each other.

Source: “Prison psychologist Bobbie Bergmeier guilty of misconduct over relationship with murderer inmate,” News.com.au, July 17, 2014.

July 14, 2014

Man misdiagnosed by psychiatrists as delusional for 20 years sues

A man who spent nearly 20 years locked in a state psychiatric ward in Lincoln is suing doctors for malpractice, saying he was never mentally ill during his time there.

John Maxwell Montin, 52, filed the lawsuit Friday in federal court, naming 21 former or current Lincoln Regional Center doctors, a program manager and two nurses, the Lincoln Journal Star reported (http://bit.ly/1mVKX89 ).

Montin is seeking more than $22 million in damages for incorrectly labeling him mentally ill, unnecessarily holding him and subjecting him to treatments he didn’t need. He’s also seeking $760,000 in lost wages and $10 million in punitive damages.

Montin was released nearly a year ago after a regional center doctor acknowledged Montin had been misdiagnosed from the beginning. Doctors at the center had based his diagnosis of delusional disorder on police reports of a 1993 incident in which he was accused of walking up to rural house, declaring it had belonged to his ancestors and that he was taking it back.

But at his 1993 trial, witnesses refuted much of what Montin was accused of doing.

A Hayes County jury found him not responsible by reason of insanity of two charges: false imprisonment and use of a weapon. He was acquitted of more serious charges of attempted murder and another weapons charge.

He was sent to the Lincoln Regional Center that year. For the next 20 years, regional center doctors and others involved in Montin’s treatment relied on information from initial police reports that said Montin was delusional, rather than court records that showed otherwise.

But last year, a regional center psychiatrist found that it was medicine Montin had taken for his injured back that had led to a medication-induced psychosis. When Montin stopped taking the medication, which was long before he was committed to the regional center, the psychosis was gone. Doctors at the center simply didn’t believe him — for 20 years — when he insisted he was not delusional.

“It was an injustice, and he was right from the beginning,” said Jon Braaten, Montin’s attorney.

Braaten said Montin has returned to Florida, where he has a business cleaning the bottom of boats. The lawsuit says Montin missed the opportunity to marry and have a family, as well as his mother’s funeral, because of the Lincoln Regional Center’s malpractice.

Leah Bucco-White, a spokeswoman for the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services that runs the center, declined to comment to the newspaper Friday.

Source: “Man misdiagnosed as delusion for 20 years sues, Associated Press, July 12, 2014.

July 8, 2014

Parkland psych ER is again scene of patient abuse

The psychiatric patient spat at Parkland Memorial Hospital staff as they strapped her into a chair. Then a nurse shoved a toilet paper roll into her mouth, while a co-worker put a sheet over her head.

“Blood stains can be seen on the toilet tissue” after its removal, says a police report that describes security camera footage. A follow-up report says a third employee warned the caregivers that their actions were “illegal.”

Texas health authorities are investigating the March incident — the first abuse in Parkland’s psychiatric emergency room to become public since the hospital hired a new chief executive. One nurse involved in the gagging was also involved in the 2011 restraint of a psych ER patient whose death triggered a federal investigation and virtual takeover of Parkland.

State health regulations prohibit restraint that obstructs a psychiatric patient’s airway or ability to communicate. A prior state enforcement action against Parkland requires hospital managers to report patient abuse within two days of becoming aware of it.

Parkland reported the gagging incident more than three weeks after it occurred. The hospital said managers didn’t know about it initially but acted promptly once they did.

“Employees on site did not elevate this incident appropriately,” Parkland spokeswoman April Foran said. The hospital fired two of five employees who were present during the restraint, she said. Two others resigned, and a fifth “received corrective action.”

Parkland, which collects hundreds of millions of dollars a year from Dallas County taxpayers, would not name the employees. But The Dallas Morning News confirmed the identities of two: Charles Enyinna-Okeigbo, the nurse who forced the toilet paper roll into the patient’s mouth, and Sherwin De Guzman, a supervising nurse.

Authorities have previously investigated both nurses: Enyinna-Okeigbo for domestic violence, and De Guzman in connection with the 2011 death of psych ER patient George Cornell. State and federal regulators found that Cornell was illegally restrained shortly before dying. They cited De Guzman for failing to supervise the technicians who subdued Cornell.

Parkland’s in-house police department investigated the March incident and asked the Dallas County district attorney’s office whether assault charges should be filed. A prosecutor said that the use of force was “unfortunate” but not criminal.

Both nurses declined to comment to The News. Enyinna-Okeigbo told police that he was merely trying to stop the spitting and was not angry with the patient, according to Parkland records.

UT Southwestern Medical Center, whose physicians supervise care at the public hospital, identified the psychiatrist in charge as Dr. Uros Zrnic. He “was not informed or aware of the incident until the videotape was reviewed” in April, UTSW said.

Terrified patient

Experts criticized Parkland after reading police reports on the latest incident at The News’ request.

“When a patient spits, it’s the last resort of a terrified human being, and being restrained like this is terrifying,” said Dr. Peter Breggin, a New York psychiatrist and former consultant for the National Institute of Mental Health.

“Trained mental health workers in this day and age know that spitting is a cause for staff to back off,” he said, adding that forcing objects into patients’ mouths can escalate violence. “There’s no excuse for this abuse.”

Dennis Borel, executive director of the Coalition of Texans with Disabilities, said some Parkland psych workers “still don’t get it.”

“This is pretty outrageous when it was just a few years ago that these kinds of actions were supposed to trigger training and other safe approaches at Parkland,” Borel said. “Everything in the patient’s behavior indicates she was desperately trying to protect herself, and they were making it worse. They failed the patient miserably.”

The state health department hit Parkland in 2012 with a $1 million fine because of Cornell’s death and several other “egregious deficiencies.” It was by far the largest hospital fine in Texas history.

Under a settlement, the hospital paid $750,000. It can avoid paying the rest if, by later this summer, it demonstrates compliance with safety requirements.

Because of the gagging incident, regulators are investigating whether there have been more “significant, egregious deficiencies and a failure to correct them or an attempt to hide them,” said health department spokeswoman Carrie Williams. “It’s an open investigation, and there have been no findings in this case so far.”

Parkland also remains under a 2013 corporate integrity agreement with the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. It requires periodic reports on patient safety, among other steps.

Compliance with that agreement is a top stated priority of Dr. Fred Cerise, Parkland’s new chief executive. He started work about a week after the March gagging incident.

Cerise and other hospital officials declined to be interviewed for this report. In written responses to questions, Parkland said “the event was discovered” on April 8 during a routine review of security video from March 16. Parkland notified the Texas health department within a day, they said, in compliance with state regulations.

Parkland also said that in addition to taking personnel actions, it now requires video reviews of restraints within 24 hours. But it would not say whether it previously had a schedule for reviewing the security videos, or why it took more than three weeks to detect the gagging incident.

Quick investigation

The criminal investigation lasted less than 48 hours before the case was closed as “unfounded,” police reports show. A News investigation last year found that Parkland police have a history of quickly closing cases in which hospital employees are accused of abuse.

The hospital released nine pages of reports on the investigation, blacking out the names of employees and the patient. It released no information about why the patient was in the psych ER or whether she was injured in the restraint incident. There is no indication in the records that police tried to interview the woman.

When asked, the hospital spokeswoman told The News that “Parkland made multiple attempts to locate the patient” but failed.

The reports contain conflicting versions of what led to strapping the patient to the chair.

Enyinna-Okeigbo told police the woman became “extremely agitated” while in a common area of the psych ER. He said he gave her medication to calm down, but it didn’t work. When staff then directed her toward seclusion rooms, she began to “spit, swing, and kick at the staff,” police wrote, summarizing Enyinna-Okeigbo’s account.

A fellow caregiver who was interviewed “does not recall seeing the patient strike or attempt to strike any staff members,” a police report says. This caregiver also said he didn’t recall seeing the toilet paper roll put into the patient’s mouth or any bleeding. He denied covering the patient’s face with the sheet. The police report noted that “video of the incident contradicts this.”

The reports quote another staffer as saying he saw the bleeding and thought the patient had been “struck by a nurse.” He described the scene as “very chaotic” and said employees lacked training for such situations.

The police description of video footage begins as the patient resists efforts to strap her into a restraint chair: “She appeared to be acting aggressively toward to the medical staff, including spitting on multiple occasions in the direction of the staff.”

Five staffers approached the woman, including one who “immediately placed the roll of toilet tissue over the patient’s mouth,” a report says. “The patient began to resist,” leading Enyinna-Okeigbo to “shove the end of the roll into the patient’s mouth, at one point even appearing to force the patient’s jaw open to completely insert the roll.”

Then another employee secured the sheet around the patient’s head, and the bloody toilet paper was removed from her mouth. Next, a surgical mask was put on the patient. It, too, later showed blood stains.

A Parkland officer met with Assistant District Attorney Craig McNeil on April 10 to discuss potential criminal charges against Enyinna-Okeigbo. “McNeil stated that he felt the culpable mental state exhibited was negligence, and the mental state that has to be met for assault is reckless,” a police report says. “Therefore, McNeil stated that he did not feel that [Enyinna-Okeigbo] met the culpable state to be charged with a crime.”

McNeil told The News he did not know why the hospital didn’t consider charges against the staff member who put the sheet around the patient’s head. Foran, the Parkland spokeswoman, said hospital police gave the DA’s office “complete details” of the incident and noted that prosecutors have “full discretion” about how to proceed.

No assault

The News became aware of the incident on May 28 and asked Parkland for all related police reports. That same day, a Parkland detective asked McNeil for a written explanation of his reasoning, which the hospital gave The News.

“The use of force against a patient in an altered mental state is always unfortunate and should be avoided,” McNeil wrote. But it “does not appear to have been done with the intent to harm the patient.”

In an interview with The News, McNeil identified Enyinna-Okeigbo as the nurse who stuffed the toilet paper roll into the patient’s mouth.

The prosecutor said that spitting could be considered assault because of the potential for disease transmission. In using that term, he said, he did not mean to suggest that the patient should be charged with assault but added: “You have the right to defend yourself.”

McNeil said he could not tell from the video why the patient had blood in her mouth. He said he saw no footage of the patient being struck.

McNeil handled a 2011 case in which security video showed Parkland psychiatric technician Johnny Roberts choking a patient into unconsciousness. The hospital fired Roberts, but grand jurors declined to indict him.

“I was not happy about that,” McNeil said. “I still don’t know why they did that.”

Troubled pasts

The News’ reporting of George Cornell’s death ultimately led to a regulatory crackdown and two years of round-the-clock federal monitoring of Parkland.

The hospital installed security cameras — the same ones that captured the recent gagging incident. It also promised to fire problem employees and retrain others, especially on patient restraints.

Parkland would not say whether Enyinna-Okeigbo or De Guzman received this training.

De Guzman left his job at Parkland at some point after Cornell’s death in February 2011. He returned to work later the same year, according to hospital employment data. Parkland would not explain his departure or return.

Cornell’s death also led to a federal civil rights lawsuit that’s still pending against the hospital, UTSW, De Guzman and other caregivers. In court records, Cornell’s family has noted ways that regulators found fault with De Guzman.

Enyinna-Okeigbo, who was hired at Parkland in 2005, was charged with misdemeanor assault of his wife in 2008.

Dallas County prosecutors initially proposed a deal under which he could plead guilty and serve probation, court records show. Instead, for reasons the records don’t explain, they dismissed the charge in exchange for his completion of an anger management class. He never entered a plea and has no conviction record.

Parkland would not say whether it was aware of the allegations against Enyinna-Okeigbo. The hospital said that before 2011 it conducted criminal background checks only on prospective employees. It said it now checks existing employees, too.

In 2013, Parkland hired privately owned Green Oaks Hospital to manage its psychiatric services. Green Oaks, which receives $1.1 million a year under the deal, declined to comment for this report. Parkland would not discuss the company’s performance.

Source: Miles Moffeit and Brooks Egerton, “Parkland psych ER is again scene of patient abuse,” Dallas Morning News, June 14, 2014.

Czech psychiatric hospitals violate human rights laws

Filed under: patient abuse,patient death or suicide,psychiatric hospital or facility — Psych Crime Reporter @ 3:31 pm

During a panel discussion held in Prague on June 30, psychiatric experts, lawyers and human rights activists all agreed that psychiatry in the Czech Republic is in an appalling state and violates international human rights laws. It is necessary to invest more money in psychiatric facilities and make them compliant with human rights standards. We appeal to the Ministry of Health and the government, headed by Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, to enforce systemic changes to psychiatric hospitals and prevent the cruel treatment of patients.

Extreme understaffing, lack of control and lack of care within large institutions lead to massive violations of the dignity and rights of psychiatric patients. “Hospitals are like factories for patients,” said Lenka Ritter, a member of the Kolumbus Association and a former psychiatric patient.

In their critical report on the situation, the Mental Disability Advocacy Center and the League of Human Rights appealed to the Czech government to immediately prohibit the current inhumane practices rife within the country’s psychiatric facilities. The document shows that locking people in cages, tying them to their beds, closing them in solitary confinement and excessively medicating them with sedatives are still common practices. By ignoring this situation, the state is committing serious violations of international law.

“The whole Czech psychiatry is in a net bed,” commented Dr. Ján Praško, psychiatrist at the University Hospital Olomouc, speaking figuratively about the inability to improve the lives of patients without systemic solutions.

“In a cage you feel like a monkey, but worst of all is being chained to the bed. Your muscles stiffen, you can’t move and the staff will not give you a drink even for 12 hours. You have your tongue cracked and in your diapers are accumulating excrements and nobody is changing them. Even these days, I sometimes wake up with nightmares about being chained to the bed,” says Lenka Ritter, describing her experience in one of the country’s psychiatric hospital.

According to Zuzana Durajová of the League of Human Rights, “The state must undertake immediate actions to stop the inhumane treatment of patients to prevent further tragedies. Prohibition of the use of degrading restraints is just one of them. It must be accompanied by a revision of the entire mental health care system.”

Monday’s panel discussion introduced the petition End Cage Beds, which is addressed to Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka. The petition can be found here.

Source: The League of Human Rights, “Czech Psychiatric Hospitals Violate Human Rights Laws,” European Liberties Platform, July 3, 2014.

Psychiatrist Priscilla Sheldon-Cost charged with narcotics offenses

Filed under: prescription drugs — Psych Crime Reporter @ 3:23 pm

An addiction rehabilitation psychiatrist with a history of treatment for alcohol and drug abuse was among those charged Wednesday with manufacturing and distributing the drug Ecstasy at a Towson home.

Dr. Priscilla W. Sheldon-Cost, 51, and her boyfriend, Thomas Ronald Joyave, 52, of the 700 block of Walker Ave. are both charged with five counts of narcotics offenses, including manufacturing and possessing drugs with the intent to distribute them, Baltimore County police said. Vincent Mark Ricker, 24, of the 7700 block of Fairgreen Road faces the same charges.

Sheldon-Cost previously worked at Baltimore Behavioral Health, a rehabilitation center for addicts in West Baltimore, while undergoing addiction treatment herself, under the supervision of the state Board of Physicians, according to board documents.

The board suspended her license indefinitely in 2012 after she violated probation by submitting drug-testing samples and psychiatric evaluation reports late and failing to notify the board that her employer suspended her clinical privileges. The board had imposed addiction treatment and drug-testing requirements upon Sheldon-Cost since 2004.

Police, county fire and U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration crews raided the home of Sheldon-Cost and Joyave about 10 a.m. Wednesday, police said. Police said the raid and investigation indicates drugs were manufactured in the home. Police declined to comment further.

Residents described the community as tightly-knit, and were surprised by the arrests. Neighbor Rachel Plank, 21-year-old Towson University student, said she’d seen the occupants of the Walker Ave. house on occasion. They seemed nice, she said.

Plank said she was surprised Wednesday at about 11 a.m. when she left for work and saw police cars at the end of the street and several officers standing in a circle.

Both Sheldon-Cost, a 1995 graduate of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, and Joyave were released from Baltimore County Detention Center on Thursday, — Sheldon-Cost on $30,000 bail and Joyave on $20,000 bail. Ricker was still being held there Thursday, according to online court records.

Sheldon-Cost did not respond to a request for comment. Joyave could not be reached for comment, and no lawyer was listed in court records for any of the three charged. No one answered the door at the Walker Ave. address Thursday evening.

Sheldon-Cost entered a physician rehabilitation program offered by MedChi, the state’s medical society, in May 2002. The month before, she had been suspended from a position at Levindale Hebrew Geriatric Center and resigned. The Mount Washington hospital for elderly psychiatric and rehabilitative patients had expressed concerns about her “physical and mental condition,” according to board documents.

In connection with her suspension and resignation from Levindale, she entered a nondisciplinary disposition agreement with the board in February 2004 that stipulated she abstain from the use of alcohol. Later that year, she entered a board-monitored physician rehabilitation program.

Officials with LifeBridge Health, which owns Levindale, could not be reached for comment.

Sheldon-Cost began volunteering, and later working part time, at Baltimore Behavioral Health in 2005 and continued until leaving in April 2007 to care for her ailing mother, according to board documents. Two months after she left, she tested positive for Tramadol, a painkiller similar to opiates, and told a board investigator the drugs were left over from a legitimate prescription she received after a skating injury.

She resumed working part time at BBH in September 2007 while under a rehabilitation agreement with the physicians board that required an individualized rehabilitation plan and undergoing regular random drug testing.

After she tested positive for alcohol in a December 2008 urine test, the board charged her with “unprofessional conduct in the practice of medicine” in 2009. Under a public consent order with the board settling those charges in March 2010, she was placed on probation for five years, according to board documents.

She was among multiple doctors at BBH who had faced board discipline at the time, a 2010 Baltimore Sun investigation found. Sheldon-Cost told The Sun in November 2010 that the facility often hired doctors with histories of drug and alcohol problems in an “effort to give people a chance.”

The Sun investigation found various problems in the clinic, including unusually high Medicaid billings, six-figure salaries paid to family members who controlled the nonprofit company, and drug use among patients staying in unregulated rental homes that the clinic operated.

BBH filed for bankruptcy in 2012 and is now owned by JR Health Care Associates. Officials with the company referred questions about Sheldon-Cost to DLA Piper attorney Mark Friedman, bankruptcy trustee for BBH’s previous owners. Friedman could not be reached for comment.

The physicians board suspended Sheldon-Cost’s medical license in September 2012 when officials found she violated terms of her probation, including failing to check in to learn when she was ordered to take random drug tests, submitting three drug samples late, submitting psychiatric reports late and failing to notify the board when her employer suspended her clinical privileges.

Board officials did not return calls for comment and did not respond to emailed questions Thursday.

Court records show Sheldon-Cost was arrested twice in 2002.

In May, she was charged with theft and malicious destruction of property. Both charges were not prosecuted. A statement of charges in that case provided by the Howard County state’s attorney’s office show Sheldon had been arrested for shoplifting at the Lord and Taylor store at The Mall in Columbia, after an employee said she had attempted to leave the store with three sterling silver necklaces and five sterling silver bracelets she hadn’t paid for.

In July 2002, she was charged with two counts of theft in another case. Court records show she was not prosecuted on the first count, and pleaded guilty on the second count, theft of items worth less than $500. She received one year of supervised probation before judgment, which in Maryland does not count as a conviction.

Details of that case were unavailable. Howard County District Court officials said the case file has been destroyed because it’s more than three years old.

Source: Scott Dance and Nayana Davis, “Psychiatrist among those charged in Towson drug raid,” The Baltimore Sun, June 26, 2014.

Psychiatrist Harold Smith gives up license following history of drug-related disciplinary actions

Filed under: controlled substances,prescription drugs,Uncategorized — Psych Crime Reporter @ 3:21 pm

On June 18, 2014 the Florida Board of Medicine accepted Florida psychiatrist’s Harold Edward Smith’s voluntary relinquishment of his medical license.

Per the terms of the agreement, Smith may never again apply for a physician’s license in Florida. This follows his history of at least four medical license suspensions or revocations by three states and by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Aadministration and several narcotic drug use relapses of his own.

Most recently, an administrative complaint was filed against him by the Florida Department of Health alleging he drugged to death a hospitalized patient of his. The medical examiner’s autopsy report stated she died from drug intoxication involving the very same drugs Smith was prescribing to her. Despite obvious symptoms of prolonged drowsiness, Smith raised her dosage twice before a hospital worker found her dead on the floor.

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