Psych Crime Reporter

August 30, 2012

Indiana board issues complaint against psychologist Pamela Christy

Filed under: Uncategorized — Psych Crime Reporter @ 11:36 am

On May 23, 2012, the Indiana Professional Licensing Agency State Psychology Board issued a complaint against psychologist Pamela Christy, Ph.D., citing conduct which indicates that she has become unfit to practice due to her failure to keep abreast of current professional theory or practice.

According to the Agency’s document, in December 2009, Christy began providing counseling to Patient A, his ex-wife and their two daughters, following the mother and fathers’ divorce. Christy provided individual, joint and family therapy to the members of the family.

In November 2009, the court ruled in divorce that the mother would have sole legal custody of the daughters and that the mother would have “the deciding vote” in matters upon which she and Patient A disagreed, relative to the daughters’ health, religion and other issues. The court’s decision did not however preclude the father from having access to his daughters’ mental health records.

In Later in November 2010, Patient A requested his daughters’ mental health records. Christy conferred with the mother, who did not want them released. Christy informed Patient A of this and also cited in a letter to the Board that she would only release the records with the daughters’ permission and that “Patient A believes that he can make that decision for his children merely because they are under the age of 18…. I see no such distinction in the law” and even if there were a such a provision, “Patient A is still not entitled to the information.

Christy however was wrong. Indiana Code § 16-39-2-9(b)(1) states that a noncustodial parent has equal access to the minor child’s mental health records as the custodial parent.

Source: Complaint in the Matter of the License of Pamela Christy, Ph.D., License No. 20041691A, Cause No. 2012 IPSB 0008, Before the Indiana State Psychological Board.

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May 2012 Texas state disciplinary actions against psychologists

Filed under: license revoked,psychologist — Psych Crime Reporter @ 11:36 am

On May 3, 2012, the Texas Department of State Health Services’ Board of Examiners of Psychologists reported to following disciplinary actions:

Revoked the license of psychologist GERALD P. MOTZ because he failed to provide proof of Board-required continuing education requirements.

Ordered psychologist JOSHUA M. MASINO to pay an administrative penalty for failure to report criminal charges within the time prescribed by law.

Placed psychologists BRENT NATHAN LANE on probated suspension for failure to cease providing psychological services while in a potentially harmful dual relationship with a patient.

Reprimanded psychologist WILLIAM R. HESTER and ordered him to pay an administrative penalty for failure to report criminal charges within the time prescribed by law, and for failure to cooperate with a Board investigation.

Reprimanded psychologist STACY NELL BROUN and ordered him to pay an administrative penalty for “charging usurious interest.” He was also ordered to refund the patient’s money.

Placed psychologist RICHARD CLARK SCHMITT on probated suspension and ordered him to pay an administrative penalty for Failure to substantiate opinions or state appropriate limitations to those opinions (such as in a psychological evaluation or custody evaluation).

Vermont takes action against license of psychiatrist Firooz Tabrizi

Filed under: Uncategorized — Psych Crime Reporter @ 11:28 am

On December 6, 2011, the Vermont Board of Medical Practice conditioned the license of psychiatrist Firooz Tabrizi.

The Vermont Board opened a case on Tabrizi upon his disclosure on his renewal application that Faxton-St. Luke’s Healthcare in Utica, New York had restricted his clinical privileges in psychiatry.

On February 7, 2011, Tabrizi entered into a consent agreement with the New York State Board for Professional Medical Conduct. In that agreement, he admitted that he committed professional misconduct by failing to maintain accurate records for eight patients (Tabrizi was charged with numerous other treatment and standard of care-related failures).

He therefore agreed that his license to practice in New York is limited to preclude patient contact and any practice of medicine and that he may not diagnose, treat or prescribe at all.

His New York license is inactive. His license has been conditions thusly in the state of Vermont as well.

Source: Stipulation and Consent Order in re: Firooz Tabrizi, M.D., Docket No. MPC 164-1208, Vermont Board of Medical Practice.

Psychiatrist Mary Ann Ager surrenders Pennsylvania license

Filed under: license revoked,psychiatrist — Psych Crime Reporter @ 11:27 am

In May 2012 the Pennsylvania Department of State reported on March 27, 2012, psychiatrist Mary Ann Ager voluntarily surrendered her license to practice medicine and surgery in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania because she had her license to practice medicine disciplined by the proper licensing authority of another state.

On August 13, 2009, the New Jersey State Board of Medical Examiners reprimanded Ager for conduct consisting of repeated acts of negligence, malpractice or incompetence; engaging in professional or occupational misconduct; prescribing an excessive amount of a controlled substance and for remaining insufficiently alert to a patient’s dependence on prescribed substances.

Ager is alleged to have inappropriately prescribed pain medication for one patient and wrote prescriptions that allowed the patient to obtain pain medication in dosage amounts exceeding appropriate levels prior to the patient’s death in January 2007.

Source: Disciplinary Actions, May 2012, Pennsylvania Department of State and Consent Order in the Matter of the Suspension or Revocation of the License of Mary Ann Ager, M.D., license no. 25MA04458500, New Jersey State Board of Medical Examiners Administrative Action filed August 13, 2009.

State issues charge against psychiatrist Richard J. Pines for sexual contact with foster children

Filed under: child molestation,psychiatrist,sexual exploitation — Psych Crime Reporter @ 11:26 am

The Idaho State Board of Medicine has filed a complaint against a Boise child and adolescent psychiatrist alleging he had improper sexual contact with four former patients or foster children and had a three-year affair with a patient to whom he was prescribing painkillers.

The complaint against Dr. Richard J. Pines alleges abuses dating back to June 2001. He has denied the allegations in his response to the board.

The board’s complaint alleges that in two cases Pines said he needed to perform naked massages to maintain his medical license, in one case he took naked pictures of a 14-year-old patient at his cabin and told a former foster child that he needed a “test patient” on which to practice hernia exams.

The board seeks a hearing on whether Pines’ license should be revoked.

Source: “Medical board files complaint against Boise doctor,” The Associated Press, August 27, 2012.

Accused psychologist pimp stops seeing patients

Filed under: crime and fraud,psychologist — Psych Crime Reporter @ 11:25 am

An Exeter psychologist charged with running a prostitution operation out of his Portsmouth apartment has agreed to stop seeing patients.

Alexander Marino had his psychology license suspended by the New Hampshire Board of Mental Health after his arrest earlier this month.

During a recent hearing in front of the state Board of Mental Health about the suspension, Marino agreed to stop seeing patients, the Associated Press reported.

Marino, 38, of 565 Sagamore Ave., Portsmouth, is currently free on bail.

According to Portsmouth Police, Marino was using his apartment to run a prostitution operation with links to Manchester and Portland, Maine since October. Police said men would arrive at Sagamore Court, hang out a the pool and enter Marino’s apartment with an assortment of scantilly-clad women to receive services. Marino was also charged with marijuana possession.

Marino, Brooke Parent, 21, of Manchester, and Jim Parra, 22, of Kittery, Maine, were all charged with prostitution following a police investigation on Aug. 4. Marino turned himself into Portsmouth Police on Aug. 7 after an arrest warrant was issued. Marino, Parent and Parra are scheduled to be arraigned in Portsmouth Circuit Court on Oct. 1. and Marino remains free after posting $1,000 cash bail and $15,000 personal recognizance.

Source: Jason Claffey, “Accused Psychologist/Pimp Stops Practice,” Exeter Patch, August 29, 2012.

Chinese government uses psychiatric hospitals to silence human rights defenders

Filed under: involuntary commitment — Psych Crime Reporter @ 11:24 am

Prominent human-rights lawyer Jin Guanghong was walking down a street in Beijing one day in April 2011 when he was grabbed by several unidentified men, who threw a black hood over his head and stuffed him into the back of a car. The men, believed to be national security officers, later placed him in a psychiatric hospital where doctors tied him up, force-fed him medicine and gave him unknown injections, all against his will. When he was released about 10 days later, he had no idea about what exactly had happened to him during the frightening ordeal.

Jin’s story is just one of hundreds of thousands of similar incidents each year in China, in which people—many with no obvious mental disabilities—are locked up against their will in China’s psychiatric institutions, according to a report released today by Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) titled The Darkest Corners: Abuses of Involuntary Psychiatric Commitment in China.

The report describes grim conditions and human-rights abuses in these institutions, where the patients have little hope of legal protection or redress. They are denied the right to make decisions regarding their own lives, such as medical treatment, admission, and discharge. Many are subjected to forced medical treatments, violence, and other forms of mistreatment, such as electric-shock therapy.

CHRD tells the story of Cheng Tianfu, who said he was subjected to electric shocks for refusing medication. In the report, he describes horrific treatment reminiscent of George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984:

“They inserted electric needles into both sides of my temples. After the power was connected, the doctor—while twisting the switch to increase the voltage—roared, ‘Don’t you dare refuse medication, don’t you dare refuse medication!’ I suddenly felt that my head was going to explode. An unspeakable pain engulfed my every nerve, every cell, and every bit of me was trembling fiercely! I stared angrily and clenched my teeth. The doctor stuffed my mouth with a stainless steel ruler wrapped in cloth to prevent me from biting my tongue off.”

“Those locked up for ‘mental disability’ are one of the most vulnerable groups in China,” said Renee Xia, international director of CHRD. “Not only are they deprived of their liberty on the basis of alleged disabilities; those who violate their rights face little legal oversight or accountability.”

The Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities, which China ratified in 2008, stipulates that “persons with disabilities enjoy legal capacity on an equal basis with others in all aspects of life.” However, the CHRD report said that when people with psychosocial disabilities are forcibly brought to many hospitals in China, staff ignore their will and objections, recognizing the committing party—usually family members, employers, police, or other state authorities—as the “guardians,” who are then allowed to authorize both the admittance as well as the discharge of the patient.
Chen Guoming

In July 2011, former psychiatric patient Chen Guoming carried out a protest in a Beijing park to raise awareness about China’s involuntary commitment system. Chen reenacted the experience of his family members binding him with tape and taking him against his will to a psychiatric hospital. The message on the ground reads “Anyone may be ‘made mentally ill’.” (CRLW)

According to one estimate, some 800,000 people are admitted to psychiatric hospitals in China each year, and an official at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention Center for Mental Health says that more than 99 percent of those treated for mental illnesses (including those involuntarily committed) have not gone through legal procedures regarding the appointment of guardians.

The authors of the CHRD study went on to say that the current system of psychiatric confinement is open to significant abuse.

“Those who have the means—power and money—to either compel or pay psychiatric hospitals to detain individuals out of a desire to punish, silence, or simply get rid of them have been able to do so with impunity,” said the report. “Although people who initiate a commitment usually allege that the prospective patient suffers from psychosocial disability, there are cases in which government officials bring a “patient” to a hospital, admit that the individual is not mentally ill, and the hospital commits them anyway.”

In practice, hospitals often admit patients taken there against their will simply on the basis of an allegation made by the police, other government officials, family members, or employers that the person might have a psychosocial disability, according to the report.

“It’s usually a mixture of the hospitals’ feeling compelled by the government, which has a lot of power, and because they receive money for incarceration,” says Wang Songlian, a CHRD research coordinator. “We know of cases where the nurses say to the patient, ‘I know you’re not ill, but I have to keep you here anyway.’”

Source: Paul Mooney, “Chinese Government Institutionalizes People Against Their Will: Chinese Human-Rights Defenders,” The Daily Beast, August 22, 2012.

Nineteen plaintiffs file Zoloft birth defects lawsuits in West Virginia

Filed under: birth defects,lawsuit — Psych Crime Reporter @ 11:24 am

In July 2012, nineteen plaintiffs filed Zoloft birth defect lawsuits in Wayne Circuit Court in West Virginia. Each lawsuit seeks to hold Pfizer, Zoloft’s manufacturer, liable for birth defects allegedly caused by ingestion of the antidepressant during pregnancy.

Zoloft was introduced to the market in 1991, and approved by the FDA to treat depression. The drug was later approved to treat panic disorder, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Post-marketing reports and subsequent lawsuits, however, have indicated that the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) medication may be linked to an increased risk of heart, brain, lung, and other birth defects when taken by pregnant women.

Nineteen Plaintiffs Claim Birth Defects

The nineteen plaintiffs who filed lawsuits in West Virginia allege that after taking the antidepressant during pregnancy, they gave birth to children suffering from various birth defects. The birth defects include atrial and septal heart defects, holes in the heart, persistent pulmonary hypertension of a newborn (PPHN), neural tube defects, craniofacial defects and other malformations. The plaintiffs claim that Pfizer was aware of the link between Zoloft and the risk of birth defects, yet Pfizer failed to adequately warn physicians and expectant mothers.

These types of birth defects often require multiple surgeries and ongoing medical care. Parents claim that their minor children have suffered and will continue to suffer injuries, damages, and losses. The plaintiffs seek both compensatory and punitive damages.

FDA Warns of Potential Link Between Zoloft and Birth Defects

In 2006 , the FDA first warned of a possible connection between Zoloft and possible birth defects. That year, The New England Journal of Medicine published a study that found women who took Zoloft during pregnancy had a higher than normal rate of infants born with (PPHN), a dangerous condition that interferes with circulatory health and the infant’s ability to breathe.

A short time later, other studies linked the use of SSRI antidepressants, like Zoloft, with heart defects, brain defects, skull and limb defects, and abdominal defects.

In 2009, a study in the British Journal of Medicine reported that the use of Zoloft during the first trimester of pregnancy increased the risk of atrial septal heart defects. These defects result when the heart does not develop normally, and the infant is born with holes in the upper chambers, leading to fatigue, shortness of breath, and lack of appetite.

Recent Study Illuminates Other Risks

A more recent study published in 2012 in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology also linked the use of antidepressants during pregnancy to certain risks. Researchers found that among nearly 229,000 infants, those whose mothers used antidepressants during the second trimester were more at risk for preterm birth. Mothers who took the antidepressants during pregnancy were also at a higher risk for giving birth to a baby of smaller size, and having a baby who suffered a seizure.

On April 12, 2012, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation consolidated all federal Zoloft lawsuits into one court in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Other cases, like the nineteen mentioned here, continue to be filed in state courts across the country.

Source: Eric Chaffin, “Nineteen Plaintiffs File Zoloft Birth Defects Lawsuits in West Virginia,” The Legal Examiner, August 21, 2012.

Wife gets husband thrown in psych ward after he refuses loan to father-in-law

Filed under: involuntary commitment — Psych Crime Reporter @ 11:23 am

Chen Guoming protested in a Beijing park in July 2011 to raise awareness about involuntary commitment  to mental institutions. The message on the ground reads, “anyone may be ‘made mentally ill’.”Equality and Justice InitiativeChen Guoming protested in a Beijing park in July 2011 to raise awareness about involuntary commitment  to mental institutions. The message on the ground reads, “anyone may be ‘made mentally ill’.”

BEIJING — In February 2011, Chen Guoming, 45, a jewelry store owner in southern China’s Fujian Province, was drugged by his wife, tied up with tape and taken to a psychiatric hospital where he was committed as mentally ill.

While in hospital, much of Mr. Chen’s fortune worth about $1.3 million — in shares, gold and jewels — disappeared, according to the Procuratorate Daily, a newspaper tied to the Supreme People’s Procuratorate, the country’s top prosecution and investigation agency.

For 56 days, Mr. Chen was unable to get his freedom back. His wife was considered by hospital and police officials to be his legal guardian and she refused to permit his release, despite new verdicts from doctors that Mr. Chen was not mentally ill. His release finally came through the efforts of his sister, the newspaper reported.

The abuse of involuntary commitment to psychiatric hospitals is a hot topic in China, with cases like Mr. Chen’s gaining widespread media attention. A Hong Kong-based human rights group, the Chinese Human Rights Defenders, in a report this week called on the government to ensure that a long-awaited Mental Health Law — under discussion for over quarter of a century — comply with international norms and protect the rights of both the mentally ill and the non-mentally ill from the power of the state, but also from the power of the family to incarcerate involuntarily, under conditions that are murky at best.

In the report, “The Darkest Corners: Abuses of Involuntary Psychiatric Commitment in China,” the group says cases like Mr. Chen’s are by no means rare.

“China’s involuntary commitment system is a black hole into which citizens can be ‘disappeared’ for an indefinite period of time based on the existence or mere allegation of a psychosocial disability by family members, employers, police or other state authorities,” the group wrote. “A combination of factors — namely, a deficient legal and regulatory framework, coupled with a lack of judicial independence — is primarily to blame for this state of affairs.”

Chinese laws and regulations currently do not provide people like Mr. Chen, and dozens of others documented by the group, with the right to an independent review of their mental health status or the legality of their detention; nor is there a right to a court hearing or access to counsel, contravening the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, a United Nations treaty ratified by China in 2008, the group said.

The group called on China to honor its obligations, and pointed out that a treaty committee is scheduled to visit on Sept. 18 and 19 to conduct its first review of China’s compliance.

However, the group warned that the government’s draft of the proposed Mental Health Law, released for public comment in October last year, “appears to codify the current involuntary commitment system, which violates the CRPD.”

The report also focused on persecution by the state of dissidents and petitioners for justice, whose rights it said are routinely violated.

“The current system of psychiatric confinement is also highly vulnerable to abuse,” it said. “Those who have the means — power and money — to either compel or pay psychiatric hospitals to detain individuals out of a desire to punish and silence them have been able to do so with impunity,” with individuals “taken to psychiatric hospitals to punish them after they acted in ways that irked government officials, such as petitioning higher authorities or publishing articles criticizing the government.”

While there is virtually no public debate in China on the fate of dissidents in the country’s psychiatric system, involuntary commitment of non-dissidents has become a hot topic, as reports like this one in the People’s Daily Overseas edition show. The headline translates as “China plans laws to prevent ‘being made mentally ill’.”

Mr. Chen’s problems began when he refused to lend money to his wife’s father, the report in the Procuratorate Daily said. After his release, Mr. Chen accused his wife of “intentional injury” and “illegal detention,” but the Shaowu City Public Security Bureau in Fujian refused to investigate the circumstances of his detention.

His wife’s conduct did not constitute a crime, since “Paranoid disorder is only visible to the spouse, and your wife thought you were mentally ill and had the right to take you to a psychiatric hospital,” the group quoted police as saying.

Source: Didi Kirsten Tatlow, “China Pressed to Prevent Abuse of Psychiatric Confinement,” International Herald Tribune, August 23, 2012.

August 21, 2012

Jacksonville substance abuse psychiatrist arrested for driving under the influence

Filed under: psychiatrist,substance abuse — Psych Crime Reporter @ 8:47 pm

A Jacksonville psychiatrist who specializes in substance abuse and addiction treatment was arrested Thursday and charged with driving under the influence of alcohol or chemical substance, police said.

Mohamed Omar Saleh, 59, of Campbell Avenue was jailed on $5,000 bail after his arrest that began with a traffic stop spurred by a retired Jacksonville police officer, records show. The stop occurred on northbound Interstate 95 near Duval Road about midnight.

Saleh’s arrest report said that former officer Brian Murphy saw a white vehicle swerving on the highway and police were contacted. Two officers stopped the vehicle, which was being driven by Saleh. The Highway Patrol was then summoned for help.

A third Jacksonville police officer told a trooper that Saleh was under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol, the report said. The trooper performed a field sobriety test and concluded that Saleh was impaired. He was then jailed, where he gave a urine sample for testing. The test has not been completed.

Saleh’s business, the Center for Medicine and Wellness, is at 1408 San Marco Blvd., state health records show. He has been practicing since at least 1984 and has privileges at Baptist Medical Center, Memorial Hospital and St. Johns River Hospital.

Gaston said a handful of agencies, including the Drug Enforcement Administration, local narcotics detectives and the state Department of Health sought records of Saleh’s arrest after they learned about Thursday’s incident. He said the agencies did not say why they wanted those records.

State health officials did not return calls seeking information about Saleh and their knowledge of the arrest.

Saleh hung up on a Times-Union reporter who reached him on his cell phone.

Source: Jim Schoettler, “Jacksonville psychiatrist who specializes in substance abuse treatment charged with DUI,” Florida Times-Union, July 20, 2012.

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