Psych Crime Reporter

February 28, 2011

Psychiatrist Peter L. Campbell surrenders Pennsylvania license; has lost licenses in four other states

Filed under: Uncategorized — Psych Crime Reporter @ 8:56 pm

On October 26, 2010, psychiatrist Peter L. Campbell permanently and voluntarily surrendered his license to the Pennsylvania Department of State, based on having had disciplinary action taken upon him by the licensing board of another state.

On August 2, 2010, Campbell surrendered his license to the Virginia Board of Medicine.  That board’s Consent Order states that while waiting to see a patient incarcerated at a prison facility via a live “tele-med” computer-video communication linking Campbell’s home office and the prison’s examining room, Campbell was observed by prison staff exposing his unclothed lower body on camera.  As a result, his employment was terminated.

Campbell, who was licensed in Illinois, Pennsylvania, Maryland and New Jersey in addition to Virginia, was restricted from prescribing controlled substances in all five states due to failure to properly manage the care and treatment of 11 patients in Virginia.

The Virginia Board’s May 2009 Order states, among other things, that Campbell “failed to consistently obtain a complete patient history prior to prescribing controlled substances; prescribed narcotics and benzodiazepines [tranquilizers] to patients without performing any physical examination, evaluation or assessment…[and] without diagnosing a medical condition justifying such prescriptions, ordering diagnostic tests to determine the etiology of the patient’s pain or documenting his reasons for selecting the…medications prescribed; prescribed controlled substances to patients who exhibited drug-seeking behavior or who he knew or should have known were abusing or had become addicted to…their medications and repeatedly authorized early refills…without any medical indication other than information provided…by the patients themselves (i.e. medications reported by patients as lost, stolen, disappeared, left in Hawaii, vomited up, destroyed by fire etc. and other non-verified explanations provided by patients.)”

Source: January 2011 Disciplinary Action report of the Pennsylvania Department of State, as posted on the Department’s website; Consent Order In Re: Peter L. Campbell, M.D., License No. 0101-029943, Before the Board of Medicine (Virginia), May 22, 2009 and Consent Order in the Matter of the License of Peter L. Campbell, M.D., License No. MA85460, New Jersey State Board of Medical Examiners, October 15, 2009.

Psychiatrist Sumana Suresh reprimanded for failure to order tests for patient on lithium

Filed under: Uncategorized — Psych Crime Reporter @ 8:55 pm
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On January 7, 2011, the Virginia Board of Medicine issued a reprimand on psychiatrist Sumana Suresh.

According to the Board’s document, Suresh failed to order or perform any laboratory testing for serum lithium levels on a patient to whom she’d regularly prescribed lithium drug Lithobid from September 2006 until June 2010.

The document states that Suresh failed to order such required tests “even after [the patient] reported on July 8, 2009 that she was suffering severe muscle twitching that made writing difficult and when…she knew [the patient] had been experiencing symptoms including diarrhea, stomach upset, memory problems and shaking.”

The patient’s primary care physician diagnosed lithium toxicity in the patient in May 2010.

Source: Consent Order In Re: Sumana Suresh, M.D., License No. 0101-237866, Before the Virginia Board of Medicine.

California psychiatrist David A. Ruben reprimanded, restricted from prescribing opioids

Filed under: Uncategorized — Psych Crime Reporter @ 8:53 pm

On January 31, 2011, the Medical Board of California issued a letter of Public Reprimand on psychiatrist David Alan Ruben, based on disciplinary action taken against him by the Arizona Medical Board.

The Arizona board placed Ruben on one year probation in April 2009 for unprofessional conduct regarding his prescribing of narcotics to a patient with chronic pain, such as continuing to prescribe Oxycontin and Oxycodone even after he’d discovered the patient tested positive for cocaine and non-prescribed methadone.

Ruben continued to prescribed them even after the patient had successfully completed inpatient opioid detoxification.

Following this action, the Arizona Board, in May 2010,  issued a public censure of Ruben, restricting him from prescribing and any opioid drugs for a period of one year.  He was additionally placed on probation with terms and conditions for two years.

According to the Board’s order, Ruben deviated from the standard of care with twelve patients to whom he prescribed controlled substances and other dangerous drugs without doing one or more of the following: conducting evaluations; ordering lab studies; obtaining past medical records; obtaining a history of alcohol or substance abuse or a past psychiatric history or performing a functional assessment to support the diagnosis and prescription.

In one particular case, Ruben diagnosed an 18-year-old girl with ADHD and prescribed her Adderall.  She had presented to him complaining of moodiness and irritability.  There was no documentation of the prescription in the patient’s record.

He subsequently provided the patient with “frequent, early and escalated doses” of Adderall without documenting any rationale for doing so.  There was no documentation in the patient’s record that Ruben investigated the patient’s rationale for seeking early refills.  The further prescribed her Prozac, Cymbalta, lorazepam and Zoloft without documenting a rationale for the prescriptions or whether he discussed the risks and benefits of the these drugs.

There was also no evidence in the record that he ordered any laboratory tests to support the continued prescribing of Adderall or to determine if the patient was taking the drug as prescribed and/or any illicit substances.

Source: Public Reprimand RE: Physician’s and Surgeon’s Certificate Number G-44789, Medical Board of California Case Number 16-2009-198492 and Order for Decree of Censure, Practice Restriction, Probation and Consent to Same in the Matter of David A. Ruben, M.D., Holder of License No. 11382 For the Practice of Allopathic Medicine in the State of Arizona, Case Nos. MD-09-013A, MD-09-0250A, MD-09-0926A, MD-09-1263A and MD-10-0100A, Before the Arizona Medical Board.

Pearson “Trey” Sunderland, former National Institutes of Mental Health psychiatrist loses license to practice

Filed under: conflicts of interest,crime and fraud,psychiatrist — Psych Crime Reporter @ 8:50 pm
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On January 1, 2011, the New York State Department of Health Board for Professional Medical Conduct suspended the license of psychiatrist Pearson “Trey” Sunderland III, for an indefinite period of no less than one year.

This action is a result of the following: On December 8 2006, in U.S. District Court, District of Maryland, Sunderland pleaded guilty to Conflict of Interest.  He was sentenced in January 2007 to two years probation including 400 hours community service.

Sunderland, who was the chief of geriatric psychiatry for the National Institute of Mental Health, was found to have improperly accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in undisclosed income from the Pfizer pharmaceutical company while helping to control government-sponsored research with the same company.

As part of his guilty plea, Sunderland admitted accepting payments from Pfizer without authorization from his superiors and ethics watchdogs.  He was required under NIMH rules to disclose all income earned from outside activities and travel expenses exceeding $260 that were paid by outside sources.

Sunderland had been approached by Pfizer in late 1997 about NIMH joining a scientific collaboration to search for way to detect the presence and progression of Alzheimer’s disease but did not tell his bosses he’d cut a side deal with Pfizer for personal payments.

In March 2009, the state of Maryland revoked Sunderland’s license due to his criminal conviction.

Source: Consent Agreement in the Matter of Pearon Sunderland III, M.D., CO-09-05-2883-A, State of New York Department of Health.

Psychiatrist Terrence C. Casey reprimanded in New York and Tennessee for prescribing violation

Filed under: Uncategorized — Psych Crime Reporter @ 8:47 pm

On December 22, 2010, the New York State Department of Health Board for Professional Medical Conduct censured and reprimanded psychiatrist Terrence Charles Casey and ordered him to pay a $2,500 fine with conditions.

According to the state’s document, Casey, who practiced in the state of Tennessee on a locum tenens basis during a portion of 2010, was reprimanded by the medical licensing authority of that state in January 2010 based on having prescribed to two individuals without having first established a physician-patient relationship; performing a physical exam or maintaining medical records and  fraudulently creating progress notes for two patients without seeing the patients during his employment with the Centerstone mental health facility in Nashville.

This conduct, had it occurred in the state of New York, would constitute misconduct in the form of practicing the profession fraudulently, negligence on more than one occasion, incompetence on more than one occasion and failure to maintain a record for reach patient which accurately reflects the evaluation and treatment of the patient.

Source: Consent Order in the Matter of Terrence Charles Casey, M.D., BPMC No. #10-275, New York State Department of Health.

Arizona mental health counselor Kathleen Exelby disciplined for numerous instances of fraud

Filed under: Uncategorized — Psych Crime Reporter @ 8:46 pm

On November 4, 2010, the Arizona Board of Behavioral Health Examiners placed licensed professional counselor Kathleen Exelby on probation for numerous instances of fraud, including, among other things, the following:

  • Consistently used one progress note to document 90-minute sessions that included a client and one or more family members, which Exelby billed twice: once as an individual session and once as a family session though her notes did not indicate how much time she spent individually with one client or the amount of time spent with the client and family together.
  • Submitted insurance claims for a significant number of session where the clients advised the insurance company that these session never occurred.
  • Instances of client records which did not include a progress notes for sessions she claimed to have provided and in other instances, she had a progress note for session she claimed to have provided but she did not have the client sign the first page of the progress note, as was her usual practice.
  • Submitted a claim for a session that occurred more than one month after her client record indicated the client terminated treatment.
  • Her clinical records contained a significant number of alterations in which she used white-out to delete information previously recorded.  In some instances, she deleted a previous date on a progress note and then wrote a new date.
  • Submitted progress notes to Ingenix (a health information technology company) which were not the same notes she maintained in her original record for that date.
  • Submitted claims for individual and family therapy where a majority of the sessions provided were marital therapy sessions where marital therapy was not a covered service.
  • Submitted claims using the 90809 billing code—the designation for individual psychotherapy combined with a medical evaluation and management services, which are not within the scope of Exelby’s practice.

Terms of her probation include 24 months clinical supervision and a practice audit.

Source: Arizona Board of Behavioral Health Examiners Adverse Action Tracking Form, December 2010.

Mental health counselor Paul Cartone placed on probation for instances of fraud and misrepresentations

On November 4, 2010, the Arizona Board of Behavioral Health Examiners placed licensed professional counselor Paul Cartone on probation with terms and conditions for what constitutes numerous instances of fraud and misrepresentations.

Cardone owns A New Day Counseling Center (“ANDCC”), which has two locations in Arizona though  Cartone himself lives in New York and employs independently licensed behavioral health professionals to provide psychotherapy to ANDCC clients.

Due to his location, Cartone does not have routine access to client records though he oversees all ANDCC billing activities.  Two therapists provide a range of therapy services to ANDCC clients.  The Board’s document indicates that Cartone committed the following:

  • Completed insurance billing documents for services delivered by the two therapists but acknowledged that he was not aware that different billing codes were to be used, depending on the type of service provided.
  • Completed insurance document without reviewing client records or speaking either o the therapists to ensure their information provide the insurance companies was accurate.
  • Failed to maintain any insurance claim forms.
  • Signed insurance claims forms as if he had provided the services, though they were provide by the aforementioned therapists.
  • Signed the names of the two therapists on claim forms without their permission and without noting that he was signing on their behalf.
  • Failed to maintain billing documentation including the date of each claim, the service billed for, the diagnosis, payment source, etc.
  • According to the Board’s document, in 2007, one of the therapists provided marital counseling to a client and his wife.  Cartone was aware that the client’s insurance did not provide reimbursement for marital counseling so instead of representing that they’d participated in marriage counseling, Cartone submitted individual therapy claims for their sessions.

The Board’s document contains other violations.

Terms of Cartone’s probation include 24 months clinical supervision and a practice audit.

Source: Arizona Board of Behavioral Health Examiners Adverse Action Tracking Form, December 2010.

Psychiatrist-child custody evaluator busted for lewd pics is only the latest; profession is full of dishonest, negligent practitioners

The Los Angeles Times’ story about psychiatrist-child custody evaluator Joseph Kenan (“Child custody expert linked to lewd Web photos,” February 27, 2011) may be the most sensational example of the lack of ethics, morals, competency and credentials that have been found to exist in the divorce-custody evaluation practice niche.

The Times reported that Kenan was “thrown off one recent case and has been challenged in at least two others” after a client, of whom Kenan demanded tens of thousands of dollars for his evaluation, discovered explicit photos on Facebook and elsewhere on the Internet, in which he allegedly promoted “illegal drug use, unprotected sex and male prostitution.”

Kenan, who is president of the American Society for Adolescent Psychiatry, is also under investigation by the Medical Board of California relative to at least four complaints by parents who hired him to do custody evaluations, according to The Times’ report.

It’s the most sensation, but it’s not the first.  While it’s hard to say what action the California board might take against Kenan, the reports of medical and mental health practitioner licensing boards show that numerous custody evaluators, nationwide, have come under state investigation with resultant disciplinary actions for dishonesty, negligence and incompetence:

  • May 14, 2009: Colorado clinical social worker Joanne Baum was placed on probation for one year, for writing a letter to the court that contained judgments concerning a person she had never met and published recommendations regarding child custody issues without having full knowledge of the facts necessary to make such recommendations.
  • October 16, 2008: the California Board of Psychology revoked Diana M. Elliott’s license for failure to comply with the terms of an earlier disciplinary order against in which she was charged with gross negligence, dishonesty and repeated negligent acts related to her testimony in a divorce matter in which she reported the results of psychological tests according to her memory, which was later discovered to be faulty.  Additionally, in response to a court order for her to send the original answer sheets to the father’s expert, she sent copies which were altered to make the father look more disturbed and mother look healthier than the actual answer sheets did.
  • August 6, 2008: The Colorado State Board of Psychologist Examiners publicly admonished E. Robert Lacrosse for making custody recommendations without doing complete evaluations or interviewing all parties.
  • June 21, 2008: The California Board of Psychology placed Janis Foote on five years probation for negligent acts and general unprofessional conduct.  Foote provided a custody recommendation to the court after having interviewed her patient’s three children without the knowledge or consent of the other parent (who shared joint custody of the children) and made evaluations against the other parent without ever having met him or observed him directly.
  • In March 2008, Ohio psychologist Meryl A. Orlando was suspended for 30 days and placed on 24 months of restricted practice, during which the court prohibited her from providing testimony in any cases involving custody or parental rights.  Orlando was found to have engaged in negligent conduct by rendering a legal opinion regarding a father’s continued involvement with his children, despite having not observed the father’s interaction with the children and for recommending that the father be named legal custodian of the children, based in part on her opinion that the mother had sabotaged the childrens’ relationships with the father, among other things.

More cases here.

What’s worse is that, in some cases, the people doing the evaluations may lack the qualifications and/or credentials that entitle them to do court custody work.  For instance, a story ran August 6, 2010 in the San Bernardino Sentinel about California custody evaluator Roy W. Bradbury, who admitted under oath that he was unqualified to perform the such evaluations, for which he was paid $10,000-$15,000 for each.  The exposure of his lack of training and his fraudulent licensing (he was reportedly unable to pass the state exam for a psychologist’s license) has thrown into question the validity of the determinations he made in hundreds of divorce cases.  There won’t be any disciplinary actions taken on Bradbury however as he committed suicide, after news of his fraud began to spread.

The bottom line is that anyone facing such an evaluation owes it to themself to research their appointed evaluator.  Sources of such information are state medical (for psychiatrists), psychology or behavioral health (for counselors and social workers) licensing boards and the internet.

Pennsylvania psychologist Julian Metter sentenced to five months prison for Medicare fraud

Filed under: Uncategorized — Psych Crime Reporter @ 8:36 pm

WILLIAMSPORT — A State College man was sentenced to five months in prison Thursday for fraudulently billing Medicare.

Julian Metter, 58, collapsed in front of the bench while U.S. Middle District Judge John E. Jones III was explaining the reason for the sentence he was about to impose.

Following a short recess, the hearing continued with Metter in a chair.

The jail sentence will be followed by two years supervised release, including home confinement with electronic monitoring for the first five months.

Jones told Metter he must also make restitution of $13,423. Still to be determined is whether $4,423 Metter paid in 2007 should be applied to that sum. He paid the remaining $9,000 Thursday.

Jones tentatively set an April 15 hearing to resolve the issue if the prosecution and defense are unable to do so in the next 30 days.

The sentence included a prohibition of Metter again applying for a license as a psychologist in Pennsylvania. Jones noted Metter, who remains free until he reports to prison on April 4, had agreed to that when he surrendered his license.

Metter pleaded guilty in June 2009 to a charge of making false statements in making claims for health care services between October 2002 and October 2005.

“I am guilty and accept responsibility,” he told Senior Judge Malcolm Muir at that time.

During a lengthy statement he read Thursday, Metter told Jones, “I treated billing less important than clinical work.” He claimed that was very immature on his part. Paperwork never has been his strong suit, and he realizes he should have sought professional billing help, he said.

“I treated billing less important than clinical work,” stated Metter, who characterized it as “very immature on his part.” Assistant U.S. Attorney Wayne P. Samuelson, countered that the case was not just bad billing, but “a fraudulent scheme.”

Metter admitted he broke the law by submitting hundreds of claims for payments for seeing patients on days he was not in Centre County. He said a trained assistant saw patients on those days.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Wayne P. Samuelson, who argued for a sentence of about 17 months in prison, countered that the case was not just bad billing, but “a fraudulent scheme.” Metter used patients he claimed he was helping to further his billing scheme, the prosecutor charged.

They were not read in court but Samuelson said he had letters from other psychologists questioning Metter’s treatment methods.

Metter is facing a civil lawsuit from a patient who said he emotionally and physically traumatized her by drugging her with carbon dioxide and questioning her while she was unconscious.

Trial in the case is scheduled for this summer, said the woman’s attorney, Bernard Cantorna.

Regarding the false claims Metter submitted to Medicare, Jones said he found it was a pattern, and not simply an act of immaturity.

“You were tapping the golden goose here, and you benefited substantially,” the judge said.

Metter collapsed shortly after Jones told him his treatments did not make sense to him but then added that is not his profession.

Metter, who had been in practice for 20 years, had closed his office prior to pleading guilty.

Source: “Former State College psychologist sentenced,” Centre Daily Times, February 25, 2011.

Texas will not discipline CIA psychologist despite “thousands of pages of evidence”

DALLAS — The Texas agency that licenses and oversees psychologists has dismissed a complaint against a major figure in the CIA’s post-Sept. 11 interrogations.

The Texas State Board of Examiners of Psychologists dismissed the complaint against Jim Mitchell after considering the matter at a meeting Feb. 10, according to documents obtained Friday by The Associated Press.

The board said there wasn’t enough evidence to prove Mitchell violated its rules. Former U.S. intelligence officials have said he was involved in waterboarding two suspected terror suspects in overseas prisons.

Mitchell, a retired Air Force psychologist, lives in Florida but is licensed to practice in Texas.

The complaint against Mitchell contended he tortured prisoners in U.S. custody, including Abu Zubaydah, a suspected al-Qaida facilitator who was badly wounded after his 2002 capture in Pakistan. Zubaydah was waterboarded at least 83 times, sometimes as much as three times per interrogation session, according to the complaint.

Sherry Lee, the agency’s executive director, said Texas law prohibits the board from disclosing anything about a complaint unless it results in disciplinary action.

Henry Schuelke, an attorney representing Mitchell, said neither he nor his client could comment. He also cited the confidentiality of the proceedings.

The board’s ruling was made two days after a hearing closed to the public in which three board members considered the complaint as well as Mitchell’s response.

Jim Cox, a San Antonio psychologist who was one of the complainants, said Friday that the board made its decision despite thousands of pages of evidence, including sworn testimony, tying Mitchell to practices that violate professional ethics.

“I don’t know what to make of it,” Cox said. “The board is empowered to protect citizens from the misdeeds of psychologists. That’s their only function. And as far as I can tell, they dropped the ball on this one.”

The other complainants were Dicky Grigg, an Austin attorney who represented three terror suspects imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay, and Joseph Margulies, a Northwestern University law professor who served as Zubaydah’s civilian attorney.

In dismissing the complaint, Texas falls into line with other states that have determined they won’t pursue cases against psychologists linked to questionable interrogation methods in the post-Sept. 11 era.

Boards in Ohio and Louisiana have decided not to take action against Larry James, a retired Army psychologist who has been accused of observing abusive interrogations of detainees at Guantanamo without doing anything to stop them.  And New York’s Office of Professional discipline has declined to pursue an investigation of John Leso, an Army psychologist accused of developing abusive tactics used at Guantanamo.

The Texas case had particular significance because the American Psychological Association wrote a letter to the board saying Mitchell’s conduct, as detailed in the complaint and media reports, was “unique in the scope of misperception and harm” it caused the profession.

Representatives of the organization didn’t immediately respond to messages from the AP seeking comment on the board’s decision.

Source: Danny Robbins, “Texas board won’t discipline CIA psychologist,” Houston Chronicle, February 25, 2011.

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