Physician Health Programs: The Need for Transparency and Accountability

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Accountability, or answerability,  is necessary to prevent abuse and corruption.  This requires both the provision of information and justification for actions.  What was done and why?

Professional guidelines and standards of care, ethical codes of conduct and the law are all objective benchmarks that can be used to assess the actions and decisions of others.  In any free society this necessitates the existence of organizations of truly independent opinion capable of standing in this judgment.

State PHPs are Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) over which the state health department has no supervisory oversight.  There is no regulation, no transparency and no accountability.  There is no public scrutiny and they police themselves.

In Ethical and Managerial Considerations Regarding State Physician Health Programs Drs. John Knight and J. Wesley Boyd call for greater oversight and scrutiny of PHPs by the medical community at large.   They recommended periodic auditing, national standards and regulation.  They also attempted to convince the Massachusetts Medical Society to implement changes at PHS where they served as Associate Directors with over two decades of collective experience.

These efforts to promote transparency and accountability at both local and national levels, however,  fell on deaf ears.

State PHPs have systematically removed those not conforming to groupthink.  Threatening them with litigation if they breached “peer-review” statutes and confidentiality agreements has effectively silenced them from reporting any misconduct, abuse or even crimes they may have witnessed.

In Massachusetts John Knight was removed in 2009 and J. Wesley Boyd in 2010.  In Ethical and Managerial Considerations Regarding State Physician Health Programs  they comment “if a PHP highlights a physician as particularly problematic, the evaluation center might–whether consciously or otherwisetailor its diagnosis and recommendations in a way that will support the PHP’s impression of that physician.”  So too will the clinical laboratories.  

How is this any different from the case of Dr. Farid Fata, the Michigan oncologist who intentionally diagnosed healthy patients with cancer so he could charge them for unneeded chemotherapy?  The U.S. Attorney called it the “most egregious” case of health care fraud ever. His acts may have contributed to one patient death.   The institutional injustice of the PHP system is causing countless deaths of physicians.

To consciously “tailor” a diagnosis is fraud.  To tailor a diagnosis of substance use disorder or any other psychiatric diagnosis is the political abuse of psychiatry.  Misrepresentation, dishonesty, deception, and distortion play no role in the Profession and Guild of Medicine.  To do so violates the basic moral principles of Medical Ethics–Autonomy, Beneficence, Non-Maleficence and Justice.

The “PHP-approved” assessment and treatment centers are all staffed by doctors of “like-mind.”  It is a rigged game.

An audit of the North Carolina PHP found essentially no oversight from the Medical Board or Medical Society.  The audit found that “abuse could occur without being detected,” and this is by design.  By removing and blocking the provision of information necessary for accountability, restricting the liberties and freedoms of physicians, and increasing their power and control they have erected a framework of hidden abuse.

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The situation in North Carolina is standard operating procedure for PHPs under the Federation of State Physician Health Programs (FSPHP).  It is not the exception but the rule.

While outspoken in denouncing what they regard as unethical and unprofessional behavior by other doctors, they are resistant to apply even the most minimal standards to their own activities.

To whom are the PHPs accountable? Whom do they represent? These are legitimate concerns.


 

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An apt and accurate illustration of the professional regulation of medicine in 2016 via Mel Brooks History of the World Part 1

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It’s good to be the king!

Count De Monet: I have come on the most urgent of business. It is said that the people are revolting!
King Louis: You said it; they stink on ice.

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Count de Monet: Gerald! Gerald: Count da Money! Count de Monet: de Monet… Monet! Say it! Monet! Gerald and Count de Monet: Moonnet, Moonnet, Moonnet Gerald, Count de Monet, Bearnaise: Mooonnnet! Count de Monet: Perfect, don’t forget! Give it to me again! Monet. Gerald and Bernaise: Monet.

Impoverished Paris Street Merchant: Rats, rats for sale. Get your rats. Good for rat stew, rat soup, rat pies, or the ever-popular ratatouille.

Other Street Merchant: Nothing, I have absolutely nothing for sale!
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