For Whistleblowers

whistleblowerAfter 40 years of investigating and exposing psychiatric violations of human rights, the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) can say with certainty that the psychiatric/mental health industry has never come up short on crime, fraud and patient abuse.

Insurance fraud: The United States loses approximately $100 billion to healthcare fraud each year. Up to $40 billion of this is due to fraudulent practices in the mental health industry.

Sexual abuses: At least 10 percent of psychiatrists admit to sexually abusing their patients. Some studies estimate that the figure is as high as 25 percent, and a California study claims 48 percent. All studies estimate that a vast majority of these rapes go unreported.

Crime: CCHR’s database of mental health criminal convictions (which is by no means complete) numbers over 1,300 convictions worldwide over the last 30 years for everything from theft and drunk driving to rape, manslaughter and murder.

If you are or have been employed in the mental health profession, you have likely witnessed colleagues, co-workers or executives committing fraud, crime or patient abuses. You may know of substandard institutional conditions or other situations you feel need to be made known.

You may wish, for one or for many reasons, to report what you have seen.

Providing information on mental health crimes can have the end result of:

a) sparing victims further suffering

b) improving and correcting conditions inside psychiatric institutions (or getting them closed down)

c) getting bills and regulations introduced and passed that make it harder to commit fraud or patient abuse or that improve conditions for patients

d) saving taxpayer money—your money—by getting psychiatric fraud perpetrators sued or prosecuted, which could also result in money in your own pocket

According to the publication Healthcare Provider’s Guide to Whistleblower Lawsuits & the False Claims Act, (Washington G2 Reports, 1997), “Whistle-blower lawsuits (are) on the rise” and “The healthcare industry (is) targeted.”

If you know something but fear you would suffer retaliation if you were to report it, rest assured that all fifty states have enacted whistleblower protection statutes. Your report to CCHR will be held in full confidentiality.

Contact CCHR International to make a report and find out what actions can be taken.

Telephone: 323-467-4242
Toll-free: 1-800-869-2247

Here’s some examples of previous whistleblower cases involving psychiatry:

Psychiatrist blows whistle on state mental health and pharmaceutical companies

In June 2003, psychiatrist Stefan Kruszewski filed a lawsuit against Pennsylvania officials and several drug companies. Dr. Kruszewski had been hired by the Pennsylvania Bureau of Program Integrity in the Department of Public Welfare to oversee mental health and substance abuse programs. In this position, he uncovered serious abuses, including the deaths of four children and one adult while in state custody due to substandard care and the misuse of psychiatric drugs and also the sexual abuse of children by staff personnel. His suit also says drug companies have “distorted statistics, violated regulations and misrepresented the effects of the use of their psychotropic drugs simply to make money.”

Patient initiates arrest of psychiatrist who planned murder

In January 2003, a patient of New York psychiatrist Richard Karpf notified police that Karpf had told him of his murder plot where he intended to kill several people all at one time. Karpf was arrested when he illegally purchased a gun and ammunition from a police officer posing as an unlicensed gun dealer. Initially charged with conspiracy to commit murder, Karpf was ultimately convicted of criminal possession of a weapon. He spent three months in jail and lost his license to practice.

Geriatric psych fraud settlement gets more than $2 million for whistleblower

In September 2000, the University of Pennsylvania Health System (UPHS) agreed to settle a civil Medicare false claims case for $12 million involving its Partial Hospitalization Program, which provides psychiatric and psychological treatment to individuals 65 years and older. The case was initiated by a whistleblower complaint filed by John J. Saunders, which led to the government investigation. Saunders received more than $2 million of the settlement money.

Whistleblower suit results in $5.1 million settlement by psych hospital

In May 2001, Paracelsus Healthcare Corporation was forced to pay $5.1 million settlement for Medicaid fraud. The settlement arose from an investigation of allegations made on behalf of the United States by a whistleblower in a 1998 civil suit exposing Paracelsus’ relationship with Alliance Healthcare Corporation, a Los Angeles-based psychiatric services management company. The whistleblower alleged, among other things, that Paracelcus gave Alliance large financial incentives to funnel patients to a Los Angeles area Paracelcus hospital for psychiatric treatment (also known as “kickbacks”).

Whistleblower gets over $700,000 in psychiatric suit settlement

In May 2002 Northwestern Human Services, a Pennsylvania mental health services company, agreed to pay $7.8 million to the government to resolve civil claims that the company submitted false and fraudulent bills to Medicare and Medicaid, seeking reimbursement for mental health services. The civil charges included billing for patients who were so impaired that they were unable to participate in the program; billing for services that were simply recreational in nature; submitting false records of psychiatric time spent with each patient and causing staff and others to pose as clinical staff members during annual inspections by the Department of Public Welfare to demonstrate compliance with the staffing requirements. The civil action arose from a whistleblower suit filed by John Hendricks, who received $737,000 from the proceeds of the settlement.

Judge okays whistleblower suit to proceed against psychiatric facility

In March 2003, a federal judge in Philadelphia gave the green light to a lawsuit accusing a Pennsylvania mental health facility of billing irregularities and submitting false claims. Kevin Brennan, who filed the suit in federal court, maintains that The Devereux Foundation submitted fraudulent claims for payment and cost reports to various Medicaid and Medicare payers for treatment and rehabilitation services provided by the facility. Brennan first notified Devereux of the billing irregularities in June 1999.

Physician files whistleblower suit against husband & wife psychiatrists

Alabama physician Patrick Bruce Adkins filed a whistleblower lawsuit against husband and wife psychiatrists Charles McInteer and Marilyn Elizabeth Lachman. During a visit to the Park Manor nursing home in Tuscaloosa in March 2003, a nurse told him they were having problems with McInteer and Lachman. Such problems included Lachman writing a progress note for a resident who had died a month earlier (such a notation represents a visit for which the psychiatrist could then bill the patient’s insurance and which constitutes fraud. A federal lawsuit followed.)