Friends Outside of Oregon: Dr. Michael Langan & PHP’s

Friends Outside of Oregon: Dr. Michael Langan & PHP’s

August 24, 2017 – Injustice in the healthcare regulation is occurring across the nation and across the world. Although HARBR-proper is largely centered in Oregon, USA at present, we have friends and affiliates in other places. Thus, our web address, harbr-usa.org. In this report we’d like to introduce one of our dynamos from Boston. Michael Langan, MD is the owner and operator of a website called “Disrupted Physician.” Michael is extremely knowledgeable about the injustices physicians can face. Concerned about the effects of a medication he was using, Dr. Langan sought assistance from a Physician’s Health Program (PHP) believing he’d receive professional medical assistance. Once signed up however, Dr. Langan found himself moving down a path of, what we believe he may agree to call, dystopic enlightenment. Though Dr. Langan entered the treatment program voluntarily and in good faith, various other “authorities” soon took control of Dr. Langan’s fate and gained Dr. Langan’s “compliance” by threatening to take action against his license to practice medicine.

By all rights, Dr. Langan should be presently practicing his profession at Massachusetts General, be in good standing with his licensing board and teaching at the Harvard School of Medicine. Instead, he is fighting seemingly impossible protracted battles with the Massachusetts Medical Board, with the PHP, and with the legal system itself.

A Physician Health Program (PHP) is a generic term for many of the medical, mental health, and substance abuse programs across the country which are specifically geared toward the treatment of physicians. As evidenced by commentary on MedScape articles and elsewhere, many believe that PHP’s may have started out as legitimate treatment programs with faithful missions to help physicians in need of treatment. As these programs developed, they increasingly came to resemble diversion programs for physicians who had come to the attention of their licensing boards. By successfully completing treatment, physicians could avert action being taken against their licenses. Unfortunately, these programs have continued to “evolve.” To find out more, follow some of the links below.

Dr. Langan is a prolific researcher and writer on these topics. He has drawn attention to the problems surrounding PHP detention through his website, numerous articles published by him and about him in MedScape, and through his communications with other healthcare professionals experiencing similar abuses by healthcare authorities. According to a recent report by Dr. Langan, five physicians and other healthcare professionals are contacting him per week about similar abuses they are experiencing.

We consider Dr. Michael Langan’s work to be recommended reading.

You may find Dr. Langan’s website at https://disruptedphysician.com/

Medscape articles about Dr. Langan:

Physician Health Programs: More Harm Than Good?: State-Based Programs Under Fire by Pauline Anderson

Embattled Doc Suffers Another Setback in PHS Fight by Pauline Anderson

Note: For Medscape articles, one may need to go first to Medscape, and then search “Michael Langan” or otherwise go to these articles. It is also possible you may need to sign up. Sign-up is free and non-intrusive. You may also use a pseudonym to sign-up if you are concerned about board reprisal.

One of the advantages of signing up is that you may comment on Medscape articles, read comments and engage in discussion with others on these topics or others. Some have found the comment sections as valuable as the articles themselves.

Medscape Article by Dr. Langan:

Why Doctors Need to Be Gutsy by Michael Langan

We will be placing a permanent link to Dr. Langan’s “Disrupted Physician” on this website as well as links to these and other useful articles.

On the world scene: We have an Oregon physician we’ll be introducing who is doing some work on related matters with medical professionals in South Africa (in addition to her local work). She’s also making a feature film – a documentary – which will come out soon called “Do No Harm.” Why would injustices in South African medical settings matter to healthcare professionals in the United States? You’d be surprised. Such injustices are becoming a world-wide phenomenon and this provides us with an opportunity  to create a world-wide united front for regulatory reform in healthcare.

We will also be introducing supportive material recently published in the BMJ (formerly, the British Medical Journal).

HARBR’s Christian Wolff Wins His Attorney Fees

HARBR’s Christian Wolff Wins His Attorney Fees

August 15, 2017 – On August 9, 2017, Christian Wolff won his attorney fees and costs by declaration of the Oregon Court of Appeals (OCA). Wolff Wins Attorney Fees Against Psychology Board  He won his case against the Oregon Board of Psychologist Examiners (OBPE) by declaration of the OCA on April 19, 2017.

Some of the documents regarding Mr. Wolff’s case can be found on the OBPE website. The reader is cautioned to consider the may encounter OBPE bias here as well as selective publication. http://obpe.alcsoftware.com/files/wolff.christian_1563.pdf

The victory is both large and small. It is large because of the rarity of such awards that the victory is important. HARBR is making plans to address the injustices surrounding the denial of attorney fees to licensees who prevail against healthcare licensing boards. As it is, the appellate courts seem ignorant of that which actually happens when a healthcare licensing board puts licensees through disciplinary processes.

To paraphrase the statutes, courts rarely award attorney fees to licensees who prevail against boards because they do not want boards to be “timorous” in pursuing licensees who may represent a true risk of danger to the public.

Coupled with this, current Oregon statutes and rules allow many healthcare regulatory boards to automatically assess (charge) the cost of all proceedings against a licensee to the licensee regardless of outcome. These dozen or so Oregon healthcare regulatory boards are not even required to petition (ask) the court to be awarded their attorney fees and costs.

In the 2017 Legislative session, the Oregon Board of Psychologist Examiners presented a bill to the legislature which would allow them to join the ranks of the other healthcare regulatory boards in their ability to do this. Thanks to the testimonies of the Oregon Psychological Association (OPA), The Oregon State Bar – Administrative Law Division, and members of HARBR, this bill was roundly defeated and died in committee.

Christian Wolff won his attorney fees in part by arguing that the automatic assessment of fees to the licensees would cause licensees to be “timorous” in challenging wrongful actions taken against them by regulatory boards. Wolff’s argument was not unlike the argument presented to the legislature by Carson Bowler of the Oregon State Bar (OSB). OSB Carson Bowler Testimony HB 2329

Mr. Wolff’s victory is small in that his attorney fees and costs were likely less than 1% of what the OBPE’s attack upon him cost him. Despite the common belief that regulatory boards cannot be sued in civil court for damages HARBR is researching this and finding that this common belief may be false.

One of the losses incurred by Mr. Wolff is an entire year of work due to OBPE’s suspension of his license – suspension which was fully served during the process of appeals in which Mr. Wolff prevailed.

The Seminal Bice Case and the Start of HARBR

The Seminal Bice Case and the Start of HARBR

August 15, 2017 – On October 19, 2016, a member of a group soon to become HARBR, discovered the Opinion of the Oregon Court of Appeals (OCA) in relation to David T. Bice v. the [Oregon] Board of Psychologist Examiners. The Opinion (verdict) had just been released that day. A group of physicians, psychologists, counselors and legally practicing unlicensed healthcare professionals, already associated with one another, assembled to take action.

Some of the relevant documents related to Dr. Bice can be found on the Oregon Board of Psychologist Examiner’s (OBPE). We caution the reader to understand that they may encounter OBPE bias and selective publishing. http://obpe.alcsoftware.com/files/bice.david%20t._57.pdf

What stood out about the OCA Opinion in this matter is that, in our opinion, it so clearly attested to numerous instances of malfeasance on the part of the various parties who had taken disciplinary action against Dr. Bice. The affirmations against healthcare wrong-doings had rarely been this clear or from such an authoritative source. The allegations made against Dr. Bice by the Oregon Board of Psychologist Examiners (OBPE) were reversed and remanded by the OCA. The reversal means Dr. Bice won. The remand, unfortunately a standard procedure in these matters , means the case was sent back to OBPE to redecide the matter, but to do it right this time.

On November 29, 2016, twelve members of the group now known as HARBR wrote and signed a “letter of concern and request for investigation” which was sent out far and wide to government officials and other authorities. The letter was sent to the Oregon U.S. Attorney, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), All Oregon Representatives, All Oregon Senators, the Oregon Governor, the Oregon Secretary of State, the Oregon Attorney General, the Oregon State Bar, and a general press release. Og these, the only one to respond was the Oregon State Bar (OSB).

OSB regarded our letter of concern and request for investigation as a “complaint” and notified the persons named of the complaint along with codified violations they may have violated in the Bice matter. the notice was delivered to the persons of concern on  December 7, 2016, and they were asked to answer to the “allegations.” The named persons included Karen Berry (OBPE investigator), Warren Foote (OBPE legal counsel), Carolyn Alexander (Department of Justice legal representative for OBPE in the appellate hearing), and Department of Justice (DOJ) supervisors, Anna Joyce (Oregon Solicitor General) and Ellen Rosenblum (Oregon Attorney General). On December 15, 2016, the named persons lawyered up and chose a single DOJ Senior Assistant Attorney General to represent them together as a group. They chose SAAG Stephanie Thompson.

During this time, various healthcare professionals in Oregon and in other states, already associated for several years officially formed HARBR. HARBR is the Healthcare Alliance for Regulatory Board Reform.

In forthcoming articles, we will write more about the Bice matter, where it stands today, and what it means for patients, clients, healthcare professionals and healthcare regulatory board reform, and we will write about the status of our complaint with the OSB against the above named persons.

Separation of Powers

Separation of Powers

“The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.” – James Madison, The Federalist (Papers), No. 47

The Due Process Clause

The Due Process Clause

“No person shall … be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law …” (5th Amendment) , “[n]or shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law … ” (14th Amendement) – U.S. Constitution.

The Equal Protection Clause

The Equal Protection Clause

“No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws” (14th Amendment) – U.S. Constitution.

The Supremacy Clause

The Supremacy Clause

“This Constitution … shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding” (Article VI, Section 2). – The U.S. Constitution

Medical Freedom

Medical Freedom

“Unless we put medical freedom into the Constitution, the time will come when medicine will organize into an undercover dictatorship. To restrict the art of healing to one class of men and deny equal privileges to others will constitute the Bastille of medical science.  All such laws are un-American and despotic and have no place in a republic…The Constitution of this republic should make special privilege for medical freedom as well as religious freedom.” – Benjamin Rush, Personal Physician to George Washington