|San Diego Education Report
|A Letter from Douglas Beech, M.D.
While reading about the outcome of Dr. Thomas Jensen’s suit against
Kaiser Permanente’s San Diego HMO in the October 6 issue, I was painfully
reminded just how far the collective mentality of psychiatry has plunged into
a managed care paradigm of minimalism.
Dr. Jensen protested the policy of the HMO that "required" psychiatrists to
prescribe without personal examination of a patient. Physicians who
participate in such a practice do not have the HMO policy to blame, but the
outcry suggested that the policy was responsible for physicians’ not
performing their required duty.
Kaiser Defends Mental Health Coverage As
LOS ANGELES, Apr 14 (Reuters) - Kaiser Permanente, under
investigation in California for requiring psychiatrists to write drug
prescriptions for mental health patients whom they have not seen,
on Thursday defended its practice as "team-based."
The California State Department of Corporations is investigating Kaiser, the
nation's largest nonprofit health maintenance organization, after a
complaint from a psychiatrist who alleges that he was fired for refusing to
write prescriptions for patients he had not examined. "The model used in
the Kaiser Permanente San Diego department of psychiatry is a team-
based approach to providing quality mental health care services to health
plan members," Dr. Joel Hyatt, assistant associate medical director of
Kaiser's Southern California medical group, said in a statement.
"We believe that some who have expressed concern about our practice are
not fully aware that our patients are very carefully screened, that this
represents a carefully structured process designed by physicians, and that
all decisions ”to examine the patient or to prescribe medication” are made
by physicians," Dr. Hyatt said.
The California department, which regulates managed care, has said that it
plans to hold an inquiry into the matter.
The complaint, filed by San Diego psychiatrist Dr.
Thomas Jensen, alleges that, as a matter of practice,
psychiatrists are required by Kaiser to prescribe medications for
depression and anxiety on the recommendation of nonmedically
qualified personnel, such as psychotherapists, social workers and
even intern social workers, without ever examining the patients.
Dr. Hyatt said that Kaiser's new patients are carefully screened by a
licensed clinical social worker, licensed family therapist or clinical
psychologist. A psychiatrist then reviews the assessment, and, in cases
where a patient is presenting with mild depression or anxiety, the
psychiatrist might prescribe a starter dosage of appropriate medication and
then personally examine the patient in about 3 to 4 weeks. "The personnel
who conduct the initial assessment are licensed mental health professionals
who work closely with the psychiatrists in their unit. They do not prescribe
independently, and do not make diagnoses or prescribing
recommendations to the psychiatrists," he said. Dr. Jensen has also filed a
lawsuit in Alameda County Superior Court in northern California, where
Kaiser has its headquarters, seeking an injunction to force the company to
end the practice. Dr. Jensen told the Los Angeles Times that on his
first day at work with Kaiser, he was presented with cases by social
workers, social work interns and marriage and family therapists who
recommended drug treatments for patients they had diagnosed.
According to California law and the American
Psychiatric Association code of ethics, the
prescribing of drugs by a physician without
"good faith" prior examination by that physician
is classed as "unprofessional conduct."
Copyright © 1999 Reuters Ltd. All rights reserved.
Kaiser [Says] Ends Medication Policy May 5,
LOS ANGELES (AP) - Health maintenance organization Kaiser Permanente
has ended a policy that requires psychiatrists to prescribe depression and
anxiety medications for patients they haven't examined.
Kaiser psychiatrists must now rely on their own examination of patients
before writing prescriptions, the HMO announced Tuesday.
Kaiser is the nation's largest not-for-profit HMO, serving 8 million members
in 11 states and the District of Columbia. Almost 6 million of its patients are
A former Kaiser psychiatrist, who said he was fired for not following the old
policy, filed a lawsuit last month that drew national attention and prompted
the state Department of Corporations to begin investigating the drug
The lawsuit, filed by Dr. Thomas S. Jensen of San Diego, sought to halt
Kaiser's prescription policy, which were often delivered at the behest of
social workers or family therapists.
Critics said prescriptions from absentee psychiatrists endanger mental
patients and violate ethics codes of the American Psychiatric Association.
Dr. Oliver Goldsmith, medical director for Southern California
Permanente Medical Group, said Tuesday the HMO decided to review its
policy amid the public outcry.
"The public attention was a stimulus for us to take another look at this
practice," Goldsmith said. ``We felt that this was a street we had to come
However, Goldsmith maintained no patients were harmed by the
previous policy, which was restricted to Kaiser's psychiatric clinics
in the San Diego area. About 24,000 patients were treated there last
year, he said.
Kaiser acknowledged its old policy differed from standards
generally accepted by the psychiatric community, but said the
practice was designed to allow psychiatrists to treat more patients.
Jensen's attorney, Cliff Palefsky of San Francisco, cautioned that his client
would not drop the lawsuit against Kaiser until he sees changes that are
"real and complete."
Meantime, a spokeswoman for the Department of Corporations said the
agency intends to continue its investigation.
Former Kaiser Permanente
Physician, Dr. Daniel Trussell
speaking on the Highway2Health,
November 9, 2004 program about
the overuse of psychotropics, the
testing of them and the reality of
how patients might
encouraged to use them
to quite frankly, shut
them up. This program is titled
"A Candid Conversation on
Psychotropic Medications and The
Current State of Psychiatry" by Dr.
More of Dr. Trussell presentations are
Before you switch insurance
companies make sure you
are off any and all
When Amy M. left her steady
job to become a freelance
advertising copywriter,she had
no idea the antidepressant
she took to combat depression
would have an unexpected
side effect. She couldn't get
"I was turned down by Blue
Cross, Blue Shield and Kaiser,"
said the 35-year-old Oakland
resident, who has been
taking the antidepressant
Celexa for several years.
"My rejection letters from the
stated the reason for the denial:
Link to story:
Kaiser Permanente is for-profit and its "mental health"
program is a big part of achieving that goal
How it started: KAISERGATE
The following is how the HMO's actually got off the ground and it was never for your
own good. We believe that the American public has been mislead. Please follow the
following two web links to learn more about what took place between President
Nixon, John Erlichman and how Edgar Kaiser played a role in the creation of
Presented at the Miller Center of Public Affairs - University of Virginia - White House
Also hear the sound clip of Nixon here:
The transcription has been mirrored on this site because of its relevance to
Kaiser Permanente being a for-profit corporation which is contrary to what
they have publicly claimed to the rest of the world. We cannot imagine what
further proof anyone in this world would need to have presented that Kaiser is a for-
We also believe that listening to this tape will more clearly explain how Kaiser has
manipulated our government and the public into believing an untruth. It appears that
President Nixon knowing full well that Kaiser was not being honest with their
presentation of the HMO thought he was using this to his advantage. Unfortunately it
has taken decades for this to become public knowledge which is a shame. President
Nixon knew from the time of this conversation that Kaiser was for-profit and he also
knew that they are able to profit because -- "All the incentives are toward
less medical care, because—the less care they give them, the
more money they make." - Mr. Erlichman quoting Edgar Kaiser
to President Nixon on February 17, 1971...
The Beginning of
The following is from "Nicholas
A. Cummings Collected Papers
Vol. I" - Page 128 - 129
Note: Nicolas A. Cummings led
the Behavioral Health Division
and worked it into a money
making enterprise. He also is
the person that made sure
psychiatric services were
provided by HMO's. That
sounds good doesn't it? Read
the following to learn the
motives behind the actions:
"Kaiser Permanente soon
found, to its dismay, that once a
health system makes it easy
and free to see a physician,
there occurs an alarming
inundation of medical utilization
by seemingly physically health
persons. In private practice the
physician's fee has served as a
partial deterrent to
over-utilization, until the recent
growth of third party payment
for health care services. The
financial base at Kaiser
Permanente is one of per
capitation, and neither the
physician nor the Health Plan
derives an additional fee for
seeing the patient. Rather than
becoming wealthy from
imagined physical ills, the
system could be bankrupted by
what was regarded as abuse by
Early in its history, Kaiser
psychotherapy to its list of
services, first on a courtesy
reduced fee of five dollars per
visit and eventually as a
prepaid benefit. This was
initially motivated not by a belief
in the efficacy of
psychotherapy, but by the
urgent need to get the so-called
hypochondriac out of the
doctor's office. From this initial
perception of mental health as
a dumping ground for
bothersome patients, twenty
years of research has led to the
conclusion that no
comprehensive prepaid health
system can survive that does
not provide a psychotherapy
Early investigations confirmed
physicians fears they were
being inundated, for it was
found that 60% of all visits were
by patients who had nothing
physically wrong with them.
Add to this the medical visits by
patients whose physical
illnesses are stress related
(peptic ulcer, ulcerative colitis,
hypertension, etc.), and the
total approaches a staggering
80 to 90% of all physician visits.
Surprisingly as these findings
were 25 years ago, nationally
accepted estimates today range
from 50 to 80% (Shapiro,
1971) Interestingly, over 2,000
years ago Galen pointed out
that 60% of all persons visiting
a doctor suffered from
symptoms that were caused
emotionally, rather than
physically (Shapiro, 1971).
Timothy Leary was the
Director of the Kaiser
from 1952 to 1958. He
did a lot of research on
how to control and
population. He led a wild
lifestyle up at Kaiser where -
"In the mid-1950s Leary worked
as director of Psychological
Research at the Kaiser
Foundation and taught at
Berkeley University. There he
and his wife were involved in
heavy drinking and adulterous
wife swapping. In early 1960,
he joined the Harvard
Center for Personality
Research. That same year
Leary took his first dosage of
hallucinogenic mushrooms, and
he was permanently changed.
Believing that psilocybin
mushrooms created mystical
perception that could
reprogram the brain, Leary
persuaded the school
authorities to allow him to
devise and administer the
"Harvard Drug Research
There are several variations of
why Tim Leary was fired from
Kaiser. Most of the explanations
sound petty. Only one sounds
logical and provides a
reasonable explanation. The
following version is from
Nicholas A. Cummings who
replaced Timothy Leary.
Quotes are from: "The
Entrepreneur of Psychology:
The Collected Papers of
Nicholas A. Cummings"
pages 5 and 6 -
The Role of the Somatizer inb
the Development of the Health
Early in the 1950's, the
discovered that 60% of all visits
to physicians were by patients
who either had no physical
illness, or had a physical illness
that was being exacerbated by
psychological factors. Today,
this is a nationally recognized
phenomenon, and the American
Medical Association (AMA)
accepts 60% to 70% as the
national figure. The reason it
was first discovered at Kaiser
Permanente was the nature of
the health plan itself. See:
The Leary material is very
important as it sources all that
has followed while providing
somewhat of a road map for
understanding what in the world
these people are really doing.
"Targeting the insurance
companies of the nation is
important to identify the idea
that upstream intervention is
going to save the insurance
dollar. There is cost savings
and the business department
of Kaiser has data to support
As long as the outcomes are
behaviorally based, we can
measure the outcomes in terms
of reduced medical visits and
reduced medical visits
translates to dollars, savings. "
Now Learn how this branch of
medicine is used to control,
bribe and sometimes treat
The following transcription is mirrored here from the University of Virginia
because of the interest to The Justice Department the Internal Revenue
Service and the American public. Again I refer everyone to: http://www.
for the clearest possible presentation.
February 17, 1971
5:26 pm - 5:53 pm
John D. Ehrlichman: On the—on the health business—
President Nixon: Yeah.
Ehrlichman: —we have now narrowed down the vice president's
problems on this thing to one issue and that is whether we should
include these health maintenance organizations like Edgar Kaiser's
Permanente thing. The vice president just cannot see it. We tried 15
ways from Friday to explain it to him and then help him to understand it.
He finally says, “Well, I don't think they'll work, but if the president thinks
it's a good idea, I'll support him a hundred percent.”
President Nixon: Well, what's—what's the judgment?
Ehrlichman: Well, everybody else's judgment very strongly is that we go
President Nixon: All right.
Ehrlichman: And, uh, uh, he's the one holdout that we have in the whole
President Nixon: Say that I—I—I'd tell him I have doubts about it, but I
think that it's, uh, now let me ask you, now you give me your judgment.
You know I'm not to keen on any of these damn medical programs.
Ehrlichman: This, uh, let me, let me tell you how I am—
President Nixon: [Unclear.]
Ehrlichman: This—this is a—
President Nixon: I don't [unclear]—
Ehrlichman: —private enterprise one.
President Nixon: Well, that appeals to me.
Ehrlichman: Edgar Kaiser is running his Permanente deal for profit. And
the reason that he can—the reason he can do it—I had Edgar Kaiser
come in—talk to me about this and I went into it in some depth. All the
incentives are toward less medical care, because—
President Nixon: [Unclear.]
Ehrlichman: —the less care they give them, the more money they make.
President Nixon: Fine. [Unclear.]
Ehrlichman: [Unclear] and the incentives run the right way.
President Nixon: Not bad.
Tape at: http://whitehousetapes.org/pages/listen_tapes_rmn.htm
you need to look for:tape rmn_e450c
It is 12 MGS if using Windows Media Player
The very next day Mr. Nixon had a message for
Congress proposing a National Health Strategy.
Read what he said on February 18, 1971:
and mirrored here for historical purposes and in the event the content is
taken down by the americanpresidency.org for any reason:
Special Message to the Congress Proposing a National Health Strategy
February 18th, 1971
...BUILDING A NATIONAL HEALTH STRATEGY
...This new strategy should be built on four basic principles.
1. Assuring Equal Access. Although the Federal Government should be
viewed as only one of several partners in this reforming effort, it does bear a
special responsibility to help all citizens achieve equal access to our health
2. Balancing Supply and Demand. It does little good, however, to increase the
demand for care unless we also increase the supply...
3. Organizing for Efficiency.... It must be our goal not merely to finance a more
expensive medical system but to organize a more efficient one.
There are two particularly useful ways of doing this:
A. Emphasizing Health Maintenance. In most cases our present medical
system operates episodically--people come to it in moments of distress--when
they require its most expensive services...
B. Preserving Cost Consciousness. As we determine just who should bear the
various costs of health care, we should remember that only as people are
aware of those costs will they be motivated to reduce them. When consumers
pay virtually nothing for services and when, at the same time, those who
provide services know that all their costs will also be met, then neither the
consumer nor the provider has an incentive to use the system efficiently...
4. Building on Strengths. We should also avoid holding the whole of our
health care system responsible for failures in some of its parts. There is a
natural temptation in dealing with any complex problem to say: "Let us wipe
the slate clean and start from scratch." But to do this-to dismantle our entire
health insurance system, for example--would be to ignore those important
parts of the system which have provided useful service...
A. REORGANIZING THE DELIVERY OF SERVICE
In recent years, a new method for delivering health services has
achieved growing respect. This new approach has two essential
attributes. It brings together a comprehensive range of medical
services in a single organization so that a patient is assured of
convenient access to all of them. And it provides needed services for
a fixed contract fee which is paid in advance by all subscribers.
Such an organization can have a variety of forms and names and sponsors.
One of the strengths of this new concept, in fact, is its great flexibility. The
general term which has been applied to all of these
units is "HMO"--"Health Maintenance Organization."
The most important advantage of Health Maintenance Organizations is
that they increase the value of the services a consumer receives for each
health dollar. This happens, first, because such organizations provide a
strong financial incentive for better preventive care and for greater efficiency...
A fixed-price contract for comprehensive care reverses this illogical incentive.
Under this arrangement, income grows not with the number of days a person
is sick but with the number of days he is well. HMO's therefore have a strong
financial interest in preventing illness, or, failing that, in treating it in its early
stages, promoting a thorough recovery, and preventing any reoccurrence.
Like doctors in ancient China, they are paid to keep their clients healthy. For
them, economic interests work to re-enforce their professional interests...
In an HMO, in other words, cost consciousness is fostered. Such an
organization cannot afford to waste resources-that costs more money in the
short run. But neither can it afford to economize in ways which hurt patients
for that increases long-run expenses.
The HMO also organizes medical resources in a way that is more convenient
for patients and more responsive to their needs. There was a time when every
housewife had to go to a variety of shops and markets and pushcarts to buy
her family's groceries. Then along came the supermarket-- making her
shopping chores much easier and also giving her a wider range of choice and
lower prices. The HMO provides similar advantages in the medical field...
Because a team can often work more efficiently than isolated individuals, each
doctor's energies go further in a Health Maintenance Organization--twice as
far according to some studies. At the same time, each patient retains the
freedom to choose his own personal doctor...
Some seven million Americans are now enrolled in HMO's--and the
number is growing. Studies show that they are receiving high quality
care at a significantly lower cost--as much as one-fourth to one-third
lower than traditional care in some areas. They go to hospitals less
often and they spend less time there when they go. Days spent in the
hospital each year for those who belong to HMO's are only three-
fourths of the national average.
Patients and practitioners alike are enthusiastic about this
organizational concept. So is this administration. That is why we
proposed legislation last March to enable Medicare recipients to join
such programs. That is why I am now making the following additional
1. We should require public and private health insurance plans to
allow beneficiaries to use their plan to purchase membership in a
Health Maintenance Organization when one is available...
2. To help new HMO's get started-an expensive and complicated task--
we should establish a new $23 million program of planning grants to
aid potential sponsors--in both the private and public sector.
3. At the same time, we should provide additional support to help
sponsors raise the necessary capital, construct needed facilities, and
sustain initial operating deficits until they achieve an enrollment
which allows them to pay their own way. For this purpose, I propose a
program of Federal loan guarantees which will enable private
sponsors to raise some $300 million in private loans during the first
year of the program.
4. Other barriers to the development of HMO's include archaic laws in
22 States which prohibit or limit the group practice of medicine and
laws in most States which prevent doctors from delegating certain
responsibilities (like giving injections) to their assistants. To help
remove such barriers, I am instructing the Secretary of Health,
Education, and Welfare to develop a model statute which the States
themselves can adopt to correct these anomalies. In addition, the
Federal Government will facilitate the development of HMO's in all
States by entering into contracts with them to provide service to
Medicare recipients and other Federal beneficiaries who elect such
programs. Under the supremacy clause of the Constitution, these
contracts will operate to preempt any inconsistent State statutes...
Kaiser Drug Policy
Prompts State Inquiry
April 12, 2000
DAVAN MAHARAJ and
LOS ANGELES TIMES
Kaiser Permanente, the
state's biggest health
requires its psychiatrists
to prescribe psychiatric
drugs to some mental
health patients whom
they have not personally
examined, a practice that
leading experts say
endangers patients and
codes of ethics.
State regulators are
investigating complaints that
Kaiser may be running afoul
of long-established medical
procedures by requiring
psychiatrists to prescribe
medications for depression
and anxiety at the
psychotherapists, such as
social workers and
Ads by Google
Kaiser PermanenteGet free
health insurance quotes.
Find individual and group
Both California law and the
American Psychiatric Assn.
code of ethics declare that
prescribing drugs without a
"good faith" prior
Kaiser's little-known policy
has come under attack in a
lawsuit filed this week by a
former Kaiser psychiatrist
who was fired for refusing
to prescribe medications for
patients whom he did not
personally examine. The
physician, Dr. Thomas S.
Jensen of San Diego, has
asked a state court to halt
Based on complaints by
Jensen and another Kaiser
psychiatrist in Sacramento,
the state Department of
Corporations has begun
investigating the practice, a
Jensen said he told state
regulators that he saw
cases where nonmedical
recommended drugs that
could have jeopardized
Kaiser, which has 30 days
to answer the allegations in
acknowledged that its policy
differs from standards
generally accepted by the
psychiatric community. But
Dr. Dennis Cook,
coordinating chief of
psychiatrists for Kaiser's
operations, defended the
procedure, saying that it
psychiatrists to see more
patients by eliminating a
potentially duplicative initial
Cook said the contention
that the practice was
unethical was self-serving
on the part of psychiatrists
in private practice, who
don't know and trust the
therapists making the
recommendations, and who
stand to make money from
an extra office visit.
"We think it's very
ethical," Cook said. He
denied that any injuries
have resulted from Kaiser's
Some of the nation's top
psychiatrists, contacted by
The Times, said Kaiser's
policy of allowing
nonmedical personnel to
examine patients and
recommend drugs stopped
far short of the competent
standard of care.
Social workers, family
therapists and social-work
interns are not trained to
know the risks, benefits and
side effects of psychotropic
drugs, the experts say.
"It's not trivial to put
someone on psychotropic
medications," said Dr.
Joseph T. Coyle, chairman
of the department of
psychiatry at Harvard
Medical School. "If you
haven't evaluated the
patient when you start the
treatment, then it's
impossible to follow the
patient and see how [he or
she] is responding to
powerful drugs that could
cause harmful side effects.
"I'm surprised that an
ethical insurer would
require such a practice,"
Coyle said. "They say
California tells what the
future is. I hope that's not
the case for the psychiatric
William Baak, a
psychiatry professor at
UC San Diego School of
Medicine, called the
"If that's modernity, I don't
want any part of it," Baak
And Dr. William Arroyo, a
psychiatry professor at
USC School of Medicine
and a member of the
APA's ethics committee,
said Kaiser's practice
clearly violates the
professional body's code
"This undermines patient
care," he said.
The state investigation and the
whistle-blower suit focus in part on
Kaiser's contention--made in
alone manage all aspects of care."
"At Kaiser Permanente,
medical decisions are made
by physicians in
consultation with their
patients, not by health plan
states on its Web site. The
HMO's doctors "can order
any tests, medications,
medical procedures or
referrals they need without
approval from someone in
the health plan."...
Is it always about profit for Kaiser Permanente? One good thing about the
profit motive is that if very large numbers of people are being harmed in ways
that cost Kaiser money, it will do something about it. Kaiser loves to prescribe
antidepressants, but it doesn't love to care for autistic patients!
The possible link of antidepressants to autism has expectant mothers worried,
though the risk may be small
By Neena Satija
July 25, 2011
Try Googling “Prozac pregnancy’’ and you’ll get a sense of the fear and
confusion surrounding the relationship between the two.
“Anyone with experience on Prozac?’’ asks a woman on the community page of
www.babycenter.com. Prescribed the antidepressant by her doctor, she writes,
“I’m just really concerned and frankly scared to take them after reading all
these articles and research. I’m 20 weeks 2 days, and I’m supposed to start on
10mg of Prozac this morning, but I’m staring at it right now and I don’t know
what to do - should I take it?’’
In the past decade there has been a flurry of research into the effects of
antidepressants on pregnancy - in particular, on selective seratonin reuptake
inhibitors (SSRIs), which include Prozac and are the most commonly prescribed
such drugs. So far, findings published on their possible effects have been all
over the map - from increased likelihood of pre-term delivery to poor adaptation
by newborns because of withdrawal symptoms from the drugs.
This month, a report in the Archives of General Psychiatry by Kaiser
Permanente researchers suggested that pregnant women who use SSRIs might
increase their likelihood of having a child with an autism spectrum disorder
(autism, Asperger’s syndrome, or other unspecified pervasive developmental
disorders). Released in conjunction with a landmark study reporting that
environmental factors may play a much larger role in autism than previously
thought, the findings on antidepressants have fueled the debate over whether
SSRIs can be harmful during pregnancy. (Some of the same researchers
participated in both studies.)
Between 14 percent and 23 percent of women experience a depressive
disorder while pregnant, according to a 2009 report by the American
Psychiatric Association and the American College of Obstetricians and
Gynecologists. The numbers are similar to those for women in the general
population. Left untreated in pregnant women, depression has been shown to
lead to such problems as poor fetal development and mother-infant bonding,
and pre-term delivery.
What’s an expectant mother to do? How does she make a decision about
whether it’s safe to use antidepressants when she’s suffering from a disorder
that makes her more anxious to begin with?
“In pregnancy in general, we tend to be afraid of all medicine,’’ said Dr. Lori
Wroble, the chief obstetrician for Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates at
Newton-Wellesley Hospital. “And I think it’s actually scarier when you don’t have
enough studies, because it’s an open-ended question that you’ll always wonder
There are so many new studies about the possible effects of medication on
pregnancy that physicians can have trouble keeping up. At Newton-Wellesley,
the Harvard-Vanguard group holds monthly meetings to discuss research
trends - sessions that helped Wroble decide to usually prescribe sertraline, the
generic equivalent of Zoloft, if her pregnant patients need medication for
But try Googling “Zoloft pregnancy.’’ One of the first results? A TV commercial
uploaded to YouTube called “Zoloft and Pregnancy Lawsuit.’’ The minute-long
video lists the birth defects that allegedly have been linked to Zoloft, complete
with background music of ominous piano chords. The website Zoloft-lawsuit.
com has added the autism study to its information page, urging women to call
for a free consultation.
One of the problems with linking medications to conditions like birth defects or
autism is that while statistics on risk increases can seem alarming, the
conditions themselves are relatively rare.
“People always concentrate on the risk, but the probability of having a perfectly
healthy, vibrant little baby is very high,’’ says Dr. Lisa Croen, the study’s
principal author and the director of the autism research program at Kaiser
Permanente in Northern California.
Croen’s research team looked at the medical records of 1,805 mothers - 298
had children with autism, and 1,507 did not. Of the 1,507 mothers, 50, or 3.3
percent, had received at least one prescription for an SSRI in the year before
giving birth. Of the 298 mothers with children found to have an autism-spectrum
disorder, 20, or 6.7 percent, were prescribed SSRIs during the same time
Despite those numbers, Croen says that in the general population of all
pregnant women, “99 times out of 100, you’re going to have a child without an
autism-spectrum disorder.’’ Her study did not prove that antidepressants during
pregnancy increase the risk of having a child with autism, and even if further
research does establish that link is correct, Croen said, the odds of having a
child without autism “might be 98 out of 100 times.’’
Another reason it’s difficult to draw conclusions about the advisability of SSRIs
during pregnancy is that researchers don’t know how to tease apart the risks of
using the antidepressants from the risk posed by the depression itself.
“It’s very hard to know whether any effect that you know and see is due to the
medications themselves or to the depression,’’ said Dr. Sengwee Darren Toh,
an instructor at Harvard Medical School whose research focuses on the effects
of different medications on pregnancy. “I don’t think we have an answer for
While the autism study’s design is good, he said, it’s too preliminary to use for
any clinical recommendations.
So is it worth the risk for a pregnant woman suffering from depression to take
The US Food and Drug Administration gives most SSRIs a “C’’ grade in its
categorization for safety of medications during pregnancy. That means the
drugs have shown adverse effects on fetuses in animal studies, but there isn’t
enough data available on humans.
(The only exception is paroxetine, the generic equivalent of Paxil, which the
FDA gave a “D’’ after two studies found that taking the drug early in pregnancy
increased the risk of heart defects in babies from about 1 percent in the
general population to 1.5-2 percent.)
Still, the FDA notes that the benefits of taking categories C and D medications
may outweigh the risks.
“Women take these drugs for good reasons,’’ said Toh.
But some pregnant women are so hesitant to take any medications that even
their doctor can’t convince them otherwise. Vaccines are a case in point: Claims
that autism is linked to thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative that is used in
vials for medications and vaccines, were debunked years ago. Yet Wroble’s
practice offers thimerosal-free flu immunizations.
“The fear factor is so great,’’ she said.
When it comes to antidepressants, if the patient is too scared to take them but
Wroble believes they would help, the two find a compromise. Wroble will make
sure the patient’s friends and family keep an especially close watch, schedule
more regular doctor’s appointments, and set up counseling.
“We’ve had contracts that say, OK, we’re going to see you more frequently, we’
re going to set up this support system,’’ Wroble said. “It is something that we
make prominent on their chart.’’
Then she’ll start the patient on antidepressants the morning after delivery.
psychiatrist, son die in
By ERIC TUCKER
specializing in women's health
shot and killed her 13-year-old
son at their home in suburban
Washington, and fatally shot
herself, police said Wednesday.
The bodies of Margaret Ferne
Jensvold, 54, and her son,
Benjamin Barnhard, were found
Tuesday afternoon in their
bedrooms. Police were called
after one of Jensvold's co-
workers reported being unable
to contact her for several days.
Jensvold was divorced and lived
with her son in the upper-
middle-class suburb of
Each died of gunshot wounds,
police said late Wednesday,
and the state Medical
Examiner's office confirmed that
Benjamin was slain and
Jensvold committed suicide.
The deaths remain under
Jensvold was most recently
working with Kaiser Permanente
in Kensington, said her ex-
husband and Benjamin's father,
James Barnhard. He said he
had last spoken with Jensvold
several days ago to arrange a
time to pick up his only son from
"Ben was a very sweet and
loving child. I mean, he was just
one of the kindest and sweetest
kids a parent could ever wish to
have," Barnhard said. He said
his son had spent the last year
at a weight-loss program in
North Carolina and had shed
more than 100 pounds and
loved sailing and other water
He said he had no indication of
any problems between his son
"She was always nice to Ben.
Sometimes she could get a little
frustrated with him, but she was
always nice to
Ben," he added.
Robert Baum, Jensvold's
divorce attorney, said his client
was a devoted mother who
limited her medical practice to
care for her son, who had a
variety of health problems. She
also insisted that Benjamin's
father receive visitation rights,
even after a judicial master said
he was inclined to deny
visitation, Baum said.
"Countless people will miss her
warmth and compassion," Baum
said in a statement.
In 1990, Jensvold filed a federal
lawsuit against the National
Institutes of Mental Health,
where she had been a medical
She alleged that a male
superior harassed her because
she was female and fired her in
1989 before she could
complete the third year of her
fellowship program. An eight-
person jury found in Jensvold's
favor, but that decision was
rendered moot in 1996 when a
judge held that she did not
have the right to a jury trial and
called her version of events an
"illusion" and "widely
exaggerated and skewed."
"She's an incredible person. I
know she struggled against
significant adversity, personally
and in her career, and
overcame a lot of hurdles to do
some wonderful research and
be a really good practitioner,"
said Lynne Bernabei, an
attorney who represented
Jensvold in her case.
"I think she had a great
compassion for women and
improving the lives of women
through good health research,
and she had a real passion for
that," Bernabei said. "It wasn't
just a 9-to-5 job for her. She
Associated Press writer Ben
Nuckols contributed to this
LIST OF WEB SITES THAT
SPECIFICALLY STUDY KAISER
PERMANENTE AND PROVIDE
ADVOCACY AND OFFER
SUGGESTIONS FOR THE
Conahan v. Sebelius and Kaiser
Foundation Health Plan, Inc.
Cases and news
Doctors who cause death
Doctors who go along
with Kaiser tactics
Doctors in charge of
|San Diego Education Report
October 6, 2013
Patients who were harmed can join class action suit against
On October 2, 2013 a class action suit was filed in Alameda County, California
- alleging denial of timely and/or appropriate care.
Filed by Siegel, Lewitter, Malkani of Oakland, California
Contact Information: Latika Malkani
Phone Number: 510-452-5000
1939 Harrison Street, Suite 307
Oakland, California 94612
California Class Action Case RG13697775
Filing found here for your viewing:
[The complaint is interesting reading, discussing the investigation of the California
Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC).]
This suit consists of all current and former Kaiser members who have either been
denied access to mental health services, dissuaded from pursuing mental health
services, provided with delayed access to mental health services and/or provided
with inaccurate and confusing information from Kaiser regarding mental health
services available to them from October 2, 2009 to the present.
(Violations of Business and Professions Code, Section 17200 et seq., Violations of
the Unruh Civil Rights Act, Breach of the Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing,
Breach of Contract)
Kaiser Permanente is for-profit and
its "mental health" program is a big part of achieving that goal
Kaiser Mental Health
November 20, 2014
By April Dembosky
A union of 2,500 mental
health clinicians at Kaiser
have voted to authorize a
strike, just one week after
Kaiser’s nurses went on
strike for two days.
In September, Kaiser
agreed to pay a $4-
million fine levied by
state regulators. The
Department of Managed
Health Care found patients
were subject to excessively
long wait times to get a
therapy appointment, or were
shuttled into groups when
they wanted individual
Psychiatric social worker
Clement Papazian says
various fixes, like after-hours
appointments, still aren’t
“Kaiser has attempted to
make some changes, but
they’re woefully inadequate
in really addressing the full
nature of the problem,” he
says. “Our mental health
workers are really fed up.”
These complaints are part of
a long, drawn-out contract
negotiation between Kaiser
and its psychologists and
therapists. Bargaining has
been dragging on for four
years with no settlement.
And the small, scrappy
National Union of
Healthcare Workers is
eager to make a name
Union president Sal Rosselli
says the threat of a statewide
strike will strengthen the
union’s position when they
return to the table next month.
“We’ve had it,” Rosselli said.
“We’re drawing a line in the
sand. And we’ll be presenting
Kaiser with a final offer to
resolve this crisis.”
In a statement, Kaiser was
critical of the union’s strike
“After a long hiatus, NUHW
has now approached Kaiser
Permanente to resume
bargaining in Northern
California. But for the union
to threaten a strike before we
even meet, and to resort to
clichéd bargaining tactics,
makes us concerned about
the union’s intentions. We
hope the union will join us in
seeking solutions to the
challenges we face. But
whichever way the union
chooses to go, we are going
to continue to work hard on
our own to make progress.”
Kaiser says the union has
resisted several of its
proposals, like sending some
patients to non-Kaiser
therapists for treatment. It
says increasing access to
mental health care is a
challenge faced by the entire
health care industry, and
Kaiser is working hard to
Class Claims Kaiser Has Lax Suicide Care
By BARBARA WALLACE
October 14, 2015
LOS ANGELES (CN) - A class led by a woman who sought care while suicidal
claims Kaiser's mental health care does not measure up, in Los Angeles County
The Department of Managed Health Services fined Kaiser $4 million in September
2014 for alleged mental health care deficiencies, Courthouse News Reported.
The lead plaintiff, identified in the lawsuit as S.F., now 50, says she was diagnosed
with Major Depressive Disorder over 15 years ago. Her condition got worse and she
became suicidal in 2010 when she learned that her brother, who had molested her
as a child, was going to become a father, she says. Kaiser psychiatrists prescribed
medication, but that did not solve the problem, she says.
"S.F. was subsequently seen by three different Kaiser psychiatrists to prescribe
medicine to treat her Major Depressive Disorder. At least one of these psychiatrists
did not remember her on her return visit. S.F. felt that no one at Kaiser was
monitoring her mental health situation. Her symptoms did not improve. She remained
severely depressed and suicidal," the complaint states.
Despite repeated requests for weekly therapy, and flouting the law, the only options
Kaiser offered were single-session appointments - followed by two-to-three week
waits for a follow-up appointment - or weekly group therapy, according to the
S.F. says group therapy was not appropriate for her because she could not discuss
incest in that setting.
"Kaiser flatly and repeatedly refused to make an out-of-network referral," the
"With no other choice to save her life, given her deep depression and suicidal
ideation, and the ineffectiveness of her monthly medication appointments with Kaiser
psychiatrists without accompanying therapy, S.F. sought and began weekly
individual therapy outside Kaiser," the complaint continues.
Three years later, S.F. felt emotionally stable enough to handle her business
affairs and submitted claims for reimbursement to Kaiser, according to the complaint.
Kaiser denied her claims.
S.F. contends her therapy expenses should be reimbursed because her Kaiser
psychiatrist and a Kaiser Licensed Clinical Social Worker both knew she was seeing
outside therapists and recommended that she continue.
S.F. alleges unfair competition, Unruh Civil Rights Act violations, breach of contract,
breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing and negligence. She
seeks declaratory and injunctive relief, restitution, compensatory, statutory and
punitive damages, interest, attorneys' fees and costs of suit. S.F. is represented by
Christopher H. Knauf of Knauf Associates in Santa Monica.
Psychologist Says Kaiser Retaliated
April 28, 2016
By KATHERINE PROCTOR
OAKLAND, Calif. (CN) - Kaiser fired a psychologist for speaking up
about alleged deficiencies in its mental health care, he claims in
Alameda County Superior Court.
Alex Wang, whose firing ignited a strike across California protesting
Kaiser's mental health care, claims in the suit that the HMO fired him
for writing what they called "political statements" on patients' charts.
Those statements included a note indicating that Wang had
encouraged a patient to consider filing a complaint with Kaiser's
member services for appointment delays, as well as a note that a
patient needed to be seen sooner than the earliest available
Wang says that, after California's Department of
Managed Health Care levied a $4 million fine
against Kaiser for "serious deficiencies" in
providing access to those services, Kaiser
began retaliating against employees who had
been vocal advocates for patient access to
mental health services.
The fine came after the National Union of Healthcare Workers -- of
which Wang was a representative -- filed a complaint against Kaiser in
2011, claiming the HMO regularly forced patients to endure illegally
lengthy waiting times for appointments.
The union picketed Kaiser's California facilities in May 2015 to
protest Wang's firing.
Following the DMHC's fine, Wang said, Kaiser began "closely
monitoring, scrutinizing and nitpicking" Wang's patient charts, called
him into periodic "coaching sessions" and made other retaliatory
criticisms of his work.
Kaiser eventually fired Wang, he says, on the pretext of
"unsatisfactory job performance."
The psychologist sued The Permanente Medical Group on
Wednesday for unlawful termination and wrongful termination, seeking
injunctive relief, attorneys' fees and special, general and punitive
He is represented by Jonathan Siegel, with Siegel Lewitter in
A Kaiser representative declined to comment on the pending