Yet Again . . .

Another mass murder in the only country where this is a routine occurrence.  Why does it continue to happen?  It is not because the US has more mentally ill individuals than other countries.  It is because we have more guns.  Rational gun control could quell this HORRIBLE epidemic of mass shootings.  Australia did it in the 1990’s.  Not impossible at all.  There is no way our founding fathers meant this in the 2nd amendment.  And on the super remote chance they did (Washington, Hamilton and Franklin making way for mass slaughter?  No way!) we need to amend the Constitution to prevent this slaughter.

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Doctors Who Use Weed Off-Duty Are Getting Their Licenses Suspended Even in states where cannabis is legal

Awesome piece at Vice news by Ankita Rao here. It is appalling that any entity would refer a physician to a state physician health program for an evaluation–that can cost $6000, and that’s before physicians are told to stay for 30 or 90 days of treatment–SOLELY on the basis of a positive test of marijuana, especially when there are no allegations of dangerous or concerning medical practice.

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Survey Finds Widespread ‘Moral Distress’ Among Veterinarians

Lisa Moses, Monica Malowney and I published this study last Monday.  It was covered by the Globe and by WBUR and NPR.

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Doctor Loses Medical License For Legally Treating Her Menstrual Cramps With Cannabis

See the story is reported by Tobias Coughlin-Bogue, and you can find it here.

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How broad are state physician health program descriptions of physician impairment?

My latest piece with co-author and Georgetown law student Nick Lawson is here.

All credit for this piece is due to Nick who conceived of the idea and ran with it.  Physician health programs (PHPs) are unknown to most physicians until they have been referred to one.  At that point, if a physician registers any concerns about the fairness of the PHP process that physician is generally seen as merely belly-aching or being in denial instead of having anything legitimate to say.

As I have written previously, PHPs have bidirectional financial conflicts of interest with the evaluation and treatment centers that they often refer people to.    Additionally, the centers themselves–which charge thousands of dollars for evaluations that could easily happen in outpatient facilities or at academic medical centers for a fraction of the cost and minimal hassle–often decide people need to stay for treatments of various sorts at a cost of tens of thousands of dollars.  Why don’t PHPs routinely refer folks to academic medical centers for evaluation?  And, as we ask in our piece here, why are their criteria so broad?



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Immigrants cost the health care system less than US-born Americans: Study

ABC news story is here:

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Are Immigrants Health Care ‘Moochers’? On The Contrary, Boston Researchers Say

See the whole piece here:

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Forcing Psych Meds on Detained Children Perpetuates Distrust About Mental Health Care

The unethical treatment not only affects these kids, but it could have lasting impacts on people of color seeking mental health treatment.

See the whole article here:

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Don’t Trust Data and Statistics about PHP Success Rates

Nicholas Lawson, fellow physician and incoming Georgetown Law student, and I penned this letter in General Hospital Psychiatry Lawson Boyd Letter Gen Hosp Psych on PHPs which makes clear the myriad reasons why the success and satisfaction rates that Physician Health Programs tout ought to be viewed with skepticism.  Total kudos to Nick for doing the heavy lifting on this piece!

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New York Times letter about Jeff Sessions and Asylum–What Sessions Did 2 Days Ago is Beyond Abhorent

Here it is:

To the Editor:

Re “Sessions Shrinks Paths to Asylum” (front page, June 12):

The ruling that Attorney General Jeff Sessions handed down saying that fleeing domestic or gang violence isn’t reason enough to qualify someone to receive asylum here in the United States is tantamount to holding a gun to someone’s head and pulling the trigger.

I am a psychiatrist who has performed scores of evaluations of asylum seekers over the last decade and can attest to the fact that asylum seekers overwhelmingly face death if they are sent back to their country of origin.

For example, if a Central American gang has recruited an adolescent male and he refuses to join, he will be killed. Or if an adolescent girl refuses a gang’s request that she become a sex slave for the gang (no matter how they phrase the request), she will be killed. I have seen mothers who fled Central America only after not one but two of their children were killed for refusing to comply with gang requests.

Mr. Sessions’s decision will be analogized to the United States’ turning away boats filled with Jews trying to escape Nazi Germany. Those who support the administration that made this happen will find themselves on the wrong side of history.


The writer is an associate professor of psychiatry and on the faculty of the Center for Bioethics at Harvard Medical School.

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