Psych Crime Reporter

October 29, 2013

Counselor Leann Richardson guilty of Medicaid fraud

Filed under: Uncategorized — Psych Crime Reporter @ 8:30 pm

On September 17, 2013, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Oklahoma announced that licensed professional counselor Leann Richardson pleaded guilty to health care fraud in connection with a scheme to bill Medicaid for counseling services that were never provided. She faces up to ten years in prison and fines of as much as $250,000 when she is sentenced.

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Psychologist James Angster reprimanded

Filed under: Uncategorized — Psych Crime Reporter @ 8:29 pm

On August 23, 2013, the Virginia Board of Psychology reprimanded James B. Angster, L.C.P. for negligence in administering and reporting psychological testing to two clients, aged 8 and 10 years. Angster was also ordered to successfully complete additional continuing education in the areas of psychological report data analysis and report writing and current diagnostic criteria with regard to mental retardation/intellectual disability.

State revokes psychologist Cynthia Ann Spanier’s license

Filed under: Uncategorized — Psych Crime Reporter @ 8:28 pm

On August 7, 2013, the Pennsylvania Department of State revoked the license of Cynthia Ann Spanier for at least five years and  ordered her to pay a civil penalty of $2,500 and investigative costs of $595.05.

Spanier violated a lawful previously entered order of the Board of Psychology by engaging in the practice of psychology, offering to perform psychological services, and holding herself out to the public as being able to practice psychology while her license was suspended and without holding an active, current license issued by the board.

Pennsylvania places psychologist Jeff Fremont on probation

Filed under: Uncategorized — Psych Crime Reporter @ 8:28 pm

On August 7, 2013, the Pennsylvania Department of State placed the license of psychologist Jeff Fremont on probation for no less than nine months and ordered him pay a civil penalty of $3,000 and investigative costs of $1,453.31.

The state’s document states that Fremont failed to maintain professional records used in a child custody evaluation report, failed to create and maintain professional records in accordance with ethical and legal obligations, displayed gross incompetence, negligence, or misconduct in carrying on the practice of psychology, failed to conform to the standards of acceptable and prevailing psychological practice when he destroyed and/or failed to maintain records, and failed to focus his evaluation on parenting capacity, the psychological and developmental needs of the child, and the resulting fit.

He is also required to take and complete a minimum of 20 contact hours of remedial education in patient record keeping and child custody law and ethics.

Psych hospital worker charged with taking nude pictures of patients

Filed under: Uncategorized — Psych Crime Reporter @ 8:27 pm

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — A former employee at a state-run psychiatric hospital has been charged with taking photos of nude patients.

Media outlets report 38-year-old Reuben Fetty of Milton was charged Tuesday with 13 misdemeanor counts of criminal invasion of privacy.

A complaint filed in Cabell County Magistrate Court says Fetty’s ex-wife found the photos on his cell phone. She took the images to Mildred Mitchell-Bateman Hospital, which contacted state police.

State Police Sgt. Greg Losh said Fetty, 38, of Ona, has cooperated with the investigation.

“It’s not just an invasion of privacy, but now you have to consider it’s a place of trust,” Losh said. “Family members were upset and have a right to be upset.”

Losh said investigators don’t believe Fetty ever touched a patient or that his actions were sexually motivated.

“It appears Mr. Fetty saw this as a joke,” Losh said.

Fetty aided patients in daily activities, including personal hygiene. He resigned last week.

Source: Huntington psychiatric hospital worker faces charges, West Virginia Gazette, October 23, 2013.

Psychiatric nurse loses license for sex with patient

Filed under: Uncategorized — Psych Crime Reporter @ 8:27 pm
A nurse at a mental health unit in Hertfordshire has been struck off after he was found to have had sex with a patient.The case of Steven Redford, who worked at the Albany Lodge acute inpatient unit in St Albans, was heard by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).

The hearing found that he had a sexual relationship with a female patient between January and March 2011.

The NMC found Mr Redford’s actions amounted to misconduct.

The NMC panel heard evidence from the woman known as Patient A, a patient with mental health problems at Albany Lodge.

‘Not a liar’She described how Mr Redford had begun a relationship with her while he was a nurse at the unit.

The report of the panel said: “Patient A stated that she only had ‘full sex’ with Mr Redford on one occasion. Although she said that they did ‘everything else’ and although she wanted to go out on a date he just wanted to have sex.”

A doctor told the hearing he was certain the patient was “not a liar” and the panel accepted Patient A was a reliable witness.

The report said Mr Redford chose not to attend the hearing and did not cross-examine witnesses.

The panel concluded that: “Mr Redford’s actions were significant departures from the standards expected of a registered nurse, and are fundamentally incompatible with him remaining on the register.

“The panel of of the view that the findings in this particular case demonstrate that his actions were serious and had a significant detrimental effect on those in his care.”

Source: “Nurse struck off over sex with patient at St Albans mental health unit,” BBCNews, October 22, 2013.

VA psychiatrist suspended for sexually inappropriate conduct

Filed under: Uncategorized — Psych Crime Reporter @ 8:26 pm

State officials on Monday suspended the medical license of a Springfield psychiatrist suspected of flirting with and inappropriately touching six female patients between 2009 and 2013.

The state isn’t alleging that Dr. Kripakaran Puvalai had sex with patients, but according to a complaint filed by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, Puvalai “engaged in a pattern of sexually inappropriate conduct and multiple physician-patient boundary violations with numerous patients of his psychiatric practice.”

The complaint said the conduct occurred while Puvalai worked at two locations — when he was a consulting psychiatrist at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ Springfield clinic and while he practiced at Psychiatric Associates, 1124 S. Sixth St.

State officials opened an investigation into Puvalai’s conduct in 2010 but said in the complaint that they took action to temporarily remove Puvalai from practice because of an “immediate danger to the safety of the public.”

The move was prompted by the state recently learning that “multiple health-care providers” had concerns about Puvalai’s “failure to maintain proper boundaries between patients and psychiatrist,” according to an affidavit filed by Dr. Brian Zachariah, the state agency’s chief medical coordinator.

Puvalai’s attorney, Lillian Walanka, said she doesn’t know whether Puvalai will fight the suspension at a hearing scheduled for Nov. 7-8 in Springfield.

“Dr. Puvalai has a right to contest those allegations,” Walanka said. “We’re still reviewing the allegations. We’re at the very beginning of determining how we’re going to proceed.”

According to the complaint, Puvalai, 57, told one patient she had a “nice figure” and should visit his house when his wife was out of town.

Puvalai allegedly watched pornography on his office computer with another patient, put his hand up her shorts and tried to kiss her on the mouth.

He asked another patient to go out for drinks and accompany him on a trip to Las Vegas, according to the complaint.

He encouraged another patient to have “one night stands,” the complaint said.

When Puvalai was going through a residency training program in psychiatry at Springfield’s Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, his “lack of professional conduct related to maintaining appropriate boundaries between himself and patients” prevented him from completing the residency on time in 2001, the complaint said.

A 2001 letter that SIU gave Puvalai stated he would have to demonstrate acceptable performance in a remedial program to complete his residency.

According to the complaint, the remediation included requirements that all of Puvalai’s psychotherapy sessions with patients be videotaped, all of Puvalai’s patient-care activities be monitored by an SIU faculty member, and that Puvalai engage in psychotherapy with a therapist outside SIU’s Department of Psychiatry.

Puvalai, who earned his medical degree in India and is a naturalized U.S. citizen, completed his psychiatry residency at SIU in 2002, according to the IDFPR website.

It’s unclear whether VA officials knew about Puvalai’s alleged conduct. A call to the VA’s Illiana Health Care System, which operates the Springfield location at 5850 S. Sixth St., wasn’t returned Monday.

Puvalai worked for the VA between March 2008 and September 2010, the state’s complaint said. A copy of a VA letter to Puvalai said his services “are no longer required” at the Springfield location and added, “We appreciate all you have done for our facility.”

The state hadn’t taken any previous disciplinary action against Puvalai.

Sue Hofer, a spokeswoman for the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, said any other patients of Puvalai’s who have had problems with him can file a complaint by contacting the department at (312) 814-6910 or going online at http://tinyurl.com/MDcomplaints.

Puvalai worked at Psychiatric Associates, a group practice of psychiatrists and psychologists, for about five years and left in mid-September, according to Katie Crouse, a receptionist at the practice.

Puvalai told The State Journal-Register in 2002, in a story about the impact of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on foreign medical graduates, that he and his wife, another SIU-trained psychiatrist, trained in India as a family-medicine specialists and practiced there before moving to New Zealand and then the United States.

Source: Dean Olsen, “Local psychiatrist suspended for ‘sexually inappropriate conduct’,” The State Journal-Register, October 28, 2013.

October 21, 2013

San Francisco sues Nevada for “dumping” 24 mental patients in city over 5 years

Filed under: Uncategorized — Psych Crime Reporter @ 2:10 pm

About three years ago, David Theisen was broke, jobless and severely depressed in Las Vegas — not a good place to be broke, jobless and severely depressed. When he threatened suicide, he ended up in the Nevada mental health system.

And almost right away, his doctors gave him a bus ticket and sent him to San Francisco, 560 miles away and of course, in a different state. For the relatively reasonable price of an $85 Greyhound ticket, Theisen was now California’s problem.

Next!

Theisen (pictured) spoke out in a CNN report that aired yesterday. Though the highly questionable practice of “patient dumping” or as it’s sometimes called, “Greyhound therapy” has been the subject of rumor and speculation for years, no one outside of perhaps a few conspiracy theorists believed it was real.

Theisen is the first former mental psychiatric patient to confirm that, yes, “patient dumping” is real.

“I think it’s a fairly common practice. It’s known,” Theisen, who now lives in a one-room, subsidized apartment in the City By The Bay, told CNN.

San Francisco’s city attorney David Herrera believes him, and says he has the evidence to back up the allegations.

“I think it’s reprehensible,” said Herrera. “It’s been urban myth or urban legend for decades that this kind of conduct was occurring but this is the first instance in which I’m aware where we’ve been able to document a state supported practice, that was not only encouraged but facilitated by state actors.”

The city has now filed a class action lawsuit against Nevada, accusing the neighboring state of dumping 24 patients in San Francisco over a five-year span, just to save the state the money it would cost to take care of them.

Indeed, an investigation by the Sacramento Bee showing that a single Las vegas psychiatric facility, Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital, has bused out 1,500 patients — dumping at least one on every single state in the contiguous 48.

Portland, Oregon, was another target, receiving 20 “dumped” patients, according to KATU TV there.

“This is a harm to our community that this hospital has caused,” said Portland Mental Health Association board member Jason Renaud. “The discharges to California were all unreasonable. People were left on the streets without money and without medicine and that’s not a good discharge.”

The hospital dumped 500 patients in nearby California alone, according to the paper’s findings. Opposing Views reported on the “dumping” situation in April of this year.

Nevada has been chopping funds for mental health services for the past several years, From 2009 to 2012, the bee found, Rawson-Neal’s rate of shipping out patients to other states rose 66 percent. If they are like Theisen, they are given nothing more than a few snacks for the long bis ride and directions to the nearest homeless shelter in their new hometown.

Source: Jonathan Vankin, “San Francisco Sues Nevada For “Dumping” 24 Mental Patients In City Over 5 Years,” Opposing Views, October 15, 2013.

Nevada psychiatric hospital dumped patients in Oregon, records show

Filed under: Uncategorized — Psych Crime Reporter @ 2:10 pm

PORTLAND, Ore. – Bus ticket receipts show just how many mental health patients were sent from Nevada to Oregon as part of a multistate practice known as “patient dumping.”

Hundreds of patients were put on buses and several dozen ended up in Oregon. And most of those ended up in Portland.

A San Francisco city attorney posted 400 pages of receipts that show how many patients were bused out of Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital in Las Vegas and headed to Oregon.

A total of 20 ended up in Portland.

The rest were scattered in cities from Medford to Newport to Hood River and White City. The Mental Health Association of Portland hasn’t been able to find out when those people were bused here.

“No, we don’t know. There’s a lot of facts we don’t know about this. Rawson-Neal’s not been very open,” said board member Jason Renaud.

Renaud has petitioned Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum to join the San Francisco city attorney’s lawsuit against Nevada for patient dumping.

San Francisco’s city attorney contends treatment cost to taxpayers for 20 mental patients who were bused there totaled $500,000.

Oregon’s AG office hasn’t decided to join the class action suit yet.

“Well, I think it’s important that these communities get some compensation. This is a harm to our community that this hospital has caused,” said Renaud. “The discharges to California were all unreasonable. People were left on the streets without money and without medicine and that’s not a good discharge.”

One of the big issues in Oregon’s recent special session involved more funding for mental health programs. It is money that is as hard to come by in Oregon as it is in Nevada. Renaud believes it’s money well-spent.

“If we pay for people’s mental health treatment, they don’t show up in jails and prisons and hospital emergency rooms. And or on our streets,” he said.

Some of the receipts for the patients bused to Oregon date back to 2008. The Mental Health Association of Portland says some of those transfers may have been valid but based on what it has seen about the patients sent to California, it has doubts.

If you have a story for our investigative team, send them an email. The address is investigators@katu.com.

Source: Bob Heye, “Nevada hospital ‘dumps’ patients in Oregon, receipts show,” www.katu.com, October 12, 2013.

State medical board suspends psychiatrist; prescribed painkillers without exams

Filed under: Uncategorized — Psych Crime Reporter @ 2:09 pm

RAHWAY, NJ — A Rahway psychiatrist has agreed to a temporary suspension of his medical license over claims he negligently wrote prescriptions for powerful painkillers without examining patients, state officials said today.

Dr. Ranajit Mitra has been temporarily prohibited from practicing medicine and writing prescriptions for the painkillers, some of which are addictive, under an interim consent agreement with the state Board of Medical Examiners, acting Attorney General John Hoffman said today.

Mitra, 61, owner of St. George Behavioral Care in Rahway, was accused of violating a 2011 agreement with the state medical examiners board that prevented him from prescribing controlled dangerous substances for pain management, Hoffman said in a statement.

State officials, in a complaint to the medical examiners board, alleged Mitra issued prescriptions for painkillers without first conducting physical examinations of his patients, the attorney general said. Also, he said Mitra failed to keep records of patient’s treatment plans, failed to consider alternatives to painkillers and did not refer patients to pain management specialists.

Authorities also accused Mitra of providing large quantities of short-acting drugs at frequent intervals without conducting toxicology tests on the patients, according to Hoffman’s statement.

“The abuse of painkillers is a national epidemic that regulators and law enforcement at all levels are working to address,” Hoffman said.

The interim agreement was reached last week, just before a disciplinary hearing scheduled before the state board.

Authorities did not say how long Mitra’s license would be suspended.

However, a woman answering a call at St. George Behavioral Care said Mitra would not be back in the office until Nov. 14, and that he would not return any calls until then.

Other attempts to reach Mitra were unsuccessful.

Source: Tom Haydon, “Rahway psychiatrist’s license temporarily suspended over painkiller prescriptions,” The Star-Ledger, October 15, 2013.

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