Utilizing the Medical Profession as a Urine Collection Agency–The ASAM White Paper on Drug-Testing

“The rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened.” ― John F. Kennedy

Before the  2012 Drug and Alcohol Testing Industry Association (DATIA) annual conference, Dr. Robert Dupont delivered a speech entitled “Drug Testing and the Future of American Drug Policy.”    He describes a “New Paradigm” for substance abuse treatment that enforces “zero tolerance for alcohol and drug use”  that is enforced by monitoring with frequent random drug and alcohol tests in which positive tests are “met with swift, certain, but not draconian, consequences.” The paradigm is based on the current Physician Health Programs blueprint.  Dupont states:

“…physician health programs , have set the standard for effective use of drug testing. These pioneering state programs provide services to health care professionals with substance use disorders. The programs are run by physicians, some of whom in recovery themselves. PHPs feature relatively brief but highly focused treatment followed by active lifelong participation in the 12-step fellowships of Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. The key to the success of the PHP system of care management is the enforcement of the standard of zero tolerance for any alcohol or other drug use by intensive long-term random testing for both alcohol and drugs with swift and certain consequences for even a single use of alcohol or any other drugs of abuse. PHPs use drug panels of 20 or more drugs. The PHPs commonly use EtG and EtS tests to detect recent alcohol use. Similar comprehensive programs have been developed for commercial pilots and attorneys. These innovative programs of care management produce unprecedented long-term, outcomes.”

Physician Health Programs use a doctor’s medical license as “leverage” in what they call “contingency management.”   What this means is that a doctor who is being monitored by a PHP must comply with any and all demands of the PHP under threat of being reported to the state Medical Board and loss of licensure. Dupont wants to extend the PHP model to other populations including kids.

The 2013 American Society of Addiction Medicine White Paper on Drug Testing describes the organizational structure of the “New Paradigm” which includes utilization of the medical profession as a urine collection agency for their drug and alcohol testing. When a doctor-patient relationship exists the testing is rendered “clinical” rather than “forensic.” Thus the consequences of a positive test can be deemed “treatment” rather than punishment. This bypasses the strict chain-of-custody and Medical Review Officer requirements designed to ensure accuracy and minimize false-positives.  Forensic drug testing is tightly regulated because the results a positive test can be grave and far reaching.  Erroneous results are unacceptable.

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The ASAM paper describes mandated drug-testing for patients in a number of specialties including adolescent medicine, psychiatry, obstetrics, and geriatrics.  Contingency management will involve “the potential for loss of current or desired employment, or threatened loss of or restrictions on a professional or commercial license, or legal and forensic necessity.”
“This White Paper encourages wider and “smarter” use of drug testing within the practice of medicine and, beyond that,broadly within American society. Smarter drug testing means increased use of random testing* rather than the more common scheduled testing,* and it means testing not only urine but also other matrices such as blood, oral fluid (saliva), hair, nails, sweat and breath when those matrices match the intended assessment process. In addition, smarter testing means testing based upon clinical indication for a broad and rotating panel of drugs rather than only testing for the traditional five-drug panel.”

As onerous, unwarranted and unjust as this future dystopia sounds it may very well come to fruition.    Across the country doctors have been going to the media, law enforcement, and the ACLU complaining of ethical breaches, civil rights violations, abuse and criminal activity only to be turned a deaf ear.   The Federation of State Physician Health Programs has been able to construct this scaffold with no meaningful opposition and below the public radar. They have done this by removing accountability at all levels.  By preventing access to information and erecting a system without oversight no consequences exist to deter misconduct and abuse.  The same tactics and strategies will be used as they expand this to other populations.

American Society of Addiction Medicine, The Federation of State Physician Health Programs, and Like-Minded Docs 

“With one arm around the shoulder of religion and the other around the shoulder of medicine, we’d resolve their differences. Having learned to live so happily, we’d show everybody else how. Why, we thought, our Society of Alcoholics Anonymous might prove to be the spearhead of a new spiritual advance! We might transform the world”.–Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions 1953  A.A. World Services

The American Society of Addiction Medicine exists to trump the 12-step chronic relapsing brain disease model of addiction as defined by A.A.   The authoritarian view necessitates the authority maintain authority so everything is engineered around that goal.

The American philosopher Eric Hoffer noted:

“The only way to predict the future is to have power to shape the future. Those in possession of absolute power can not only prophesy and make their prophecies come true, but they can also lie and make their lies come true.” 

The PHP model is built on the very foundation Hoffer describes.

“Addiction Medicine” not a recognized medical specialty.

This begins with the ASAM itself.  “Addiction Medicine” and ABAM “board certification” is not recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties.  The requirements for this self-certification are not commensurate with ABMS certifications and only requires a medical license and board certification in ANY specialty.

Dubious Drug Testing-Not FDA approved, Conflicts-of-Interest

Federal workplace drug testing is done in accordance with mandatory guidelines. This testing is regulated using FDA approved tests with established sensitivity, specificity, and cutoff levels.  FDA approval requires rigorous research and proven validity.    The FDA requires valid scientific evidence (with both clinical and analytical validation)     The  FSPHP has introduced non-FDA drug testing via a loophole that removes accountability.  The EtG, EtS, and PEth tests were introduced as  Laboratory Developed Tests (LDTs) with little evidence base.  The LDT pathway was developed for “clinical” tests of low market potential that would not otherwise make it to market as the FDA approval process would be prohibitive.  An LDT  does not even require in vivo testing or proof that the test actually tests for what it s claimed to test.   Without FDA oversight, however, the labs can claim anything they want with no accountability.   After getting the labs to develop the tests the FSPHP then convinced the Medical Boards they were both necessary and accurate and began using them on doctors in PHP programs.

Changing Public Policy and Regulatory Authority to Increase Power and avoid Accountability

The 2011 FSMB Policy on Physician Impairment identifies, defines, and essentially legitimizes “potential impairment” and “relapse without use.”

A PHP Should be empowered to conduct an intervention based on clinical reasons suggestive of potential impairment.  Unlike the Board which must build a case capable of withstanding
legal challenge, a PHP can quickly intervene based on reasonable concern."

“Empowered” to conduct an “Intervention” for reasons “suggestive” of “potential” impairment means a doctor can be pulled out of practice for anything.  It essentially gives them carte blanche authority. The disregard for physician rights, due process and validity is self-evident.

in 2011 The ASAM issued a Public Policy Statement on coordination between PHPs, regulatory agencies, and treatment providers recommending  that  only “PHP approved” treatment centers be used in the assessment and treatment of doctors.  A recent audit of the  North Carolina PHP found financial conflicts of interest and no  documented criteria for selecting the out of state treatment centers they used.  The common denominator the audit missed was that the 19  “PHP-approved” centers were all ASAM facilities whose medical directors can be seen on this list.

The FSMB House of Delegates adopted an updated Policy on Physician Impairment at their 2011 annual meeting distinguishing “impairment” and “illness”  stating that Regulatory Agencies should recognize the PHP as their expert in all matters relating to licensed professionals with “potentially impairing illness.”

According to the FSPHP, physician illness and impairment exist on a continuum with illness typically predating impairment, often by many years.”

The policy extends PHP authority to cover physical illnesses affecting cognitive, motor, or perceptive skills, disruptive physician behavior, and “process addiction” (compulsive gambling, compulsive spending, video gaming, and “workaholism”). It also defines “relapse without use” as “behavior without chemical use that is suggestive of impending relapse.”

G. Douglas Talbott defines  “relapse without use”  as  “emotional behavioral abnormalities” that often precede relapse or “in A A language –stinking thinking.”  AA language has entered the Medical Profession and no one even blinked.  It will get worse.

The ASAM has  monopolized addiction treatment in the United States.   It has imposed  it on doctors through the FSPHP.  The FSPHP political apparatus exerts a monopoly of force. It selects who will be monitored and dictates every aspect of what that entails.  It is a, in fact, a  rigged game.

The Need for Regulation, Oversight, and Accountability

Accountability is necessary to prevent corruption and requires both the provision of information and justification for actions. What was done and why?   Accountability also necessitates consequences-the ability of outside actors to punish and sanction those who commit the misconduct.  Without these constraints corruption is inevitable.

In  2012 Drs. John Knight and Wes Boyd recommended the medical community outside of PHPS provide oversight and demand accountability.  As with the NC PHP audit,   Ethical and Managerial Considerations Regarding State Physician Health Programs  generated little interest from the medical community at large.

Because addiction is currently defined as a disease, addicts must be “treated” (which in the United States is more often coercive than voluntary), and “cured” (which is defined as remaining abstinent). When the disease concept is not strictly reserve for medical conditions but is expanded to any and all drug and alcohol use.

And this is how the ASAM “New Paradigm” will encroach upon others.  This is why the ACLU needs to get involved. This is not just about doctors but about the future of society.

The ASAM white paper contains the following quote minimizing the critical role of the MRO in drug testing.   They feel clinical testing is good enough.   And unless you want mandated random drug and alcohol testing at your physician visits using non-FDA approved testing with swift and certain consequences you will need to speak up.   This occurred in the medical profession rapidly and with little notice. And that is how it will occur in other venues.

Unlike forensic drug testing where the test results must be able to meet rules of evidence in administrative, civil or criminal proceedings, clinical drug testing* is part of a patient examination performed by a clinician with whom the patient is in a therapeutic relationship. The testing is used for the purposes of diagnosis, treatment, and the promotion of long-term recovery. Clinical drug test results must meet the established standards of medical practice and benefit the therapeutic relationship, rather than meeting the formal legal requirements of forensic testing. Drug testing in medicine employs the same sound procedures, safeguards, and systems of information management that are used for all other health-related laboratory tests, tests on which life-and death medical decisions are commonly made.

State Physician Health Programs have no meaningful oversight or accountability.  Across the country doctors are reporting ethical and civil rights abuses and even criminal activity to law enforcement, the ACLU and the media.  With the exception of North Carolina their complaints were patently ignored.  Feeling hopeless, helpless, defeated and entrapped many are killing themselves.   Institutional justice is a protective factor for preventing suicides.  None exists here.  The North Carolina PHP audit  revealed conflicts-of-interest and no oversight by the state medical society or board.   The audit also found that abuse could occur undetected because of this lack of accountability.

There seems to be a willful ignorance or apathy regarding PHPs.  Perhaps most take the side of the PHPs complacent that these are just helping sick doctors and protecting the public the complaints are nothing more than “bellyaching.”       In reality the misconduct and abuse perpetrated by the PHPs is commensurate with the behavior of Dr. Farid Fata,  the Detroit Oncologist who intentionally misdiagnosed patients with cancer so he could make money off unnecessary chemotherapy treatment.  Dr. Fata’s egregious betrayal of trust and unconscionable acts generated a flurry of comments.  His vile acts resulted in an appropriate response.

The exact same misconduct is being perpetrated by PHPs but being overlooked, justified or otherwise ignored.  Dr. Fata intentionally misdiagnosed patients with cancer who did not have cancer so he could give them chemotherapy to make money.   PHPs are intentionally misdiagnosing substance abuse and behavioral disorders in physicians who do not have them in order to give them unneeded treatment and force them into monitoring contracts to both make money and gain control.

It undermines the very integrity of the profession.  It is particularly vile when the betrayal of trust involves doing the opposite of what was entrusted.   Abuse of positions of power, trust and influence in the field of medicine need to be both prevented, recognized and addressed.    Oversight, regulation and accountability are essential  if this is going to be accomplished.  There are no exceptions.   Policies and procedures must be enforced in a consistent manner.

The medical boards, medical societies, and departments of health have given the state PHPs carte blanche control and absolute power.  They will not even investigate misconduct or even crimes.

And the PHPs have convinced law enforcement that this is a parochial matter.  Doctors reporting crimes are often turned back over to the PHP.

This refusal to investigate  or even acknowledge valid and factual complaints of professional misconduct has not only prevented the exposure of  wrongdoing and corruption but deepened it.    How does wrongdoing and corruption serve the best interests of the public or promote public health?  It doesn’t.    How could  a culture that protects the perpetrators of unethical and indefensible misconduct yet turns a deaf ear to their victims possibly contribute to the common good? It can’t.  And giving  an oppressive, illegitimate and irrational tyranny absolute power and granting them unrestrained managerial prerogative over doctors is fallacy.

“Every time we turn our heads the other way when we see the law flouted, when we tolerate what we know to be wrong, when we close our eyes and ears to the corrupt because we are too busy or too frightened, when we fail to speak up and speak out, we strike a blow against freedom and decency and justice.”
Robert F. Kennedy



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