Friday, December 07, 2007

Florida Psychs in Hot Water and a U.S. Senator Investigating Psych Drugs in Nursing Homes

Indian River County Psychiatrist to pay fine
By James Kirley
December 6, 2007
Vero Beach, Florida

Dr. Joseph Altieri, a Vero Beach psychiatrist, has agreed to pay a $15,000 administrative fine and perform 100 hours of community service to resolve a complaint brought by the Florida Department of Health last fall.

It claimed Altieri had prescribed "a constantly changing cocktail of drugs" that included methadone, Zoloft and Xanax to a 29-year-old man with a history of problems with pain pills.

Another part of the same complaint alleged Altieri prescribed the narcotic OxyContin to a 47-year-old woman with "unsubstantiated chronic pain" and a history of heroin and methadone addictions.

Both the unidentified man and woman were terminated as patients by Altieri for missing appointments and "noncompliance," the state's complaint noted.

Phone calls to Altieri's office Tuesday and Wednesday seeking comment were not returned.

South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Fort Lauderdale therapist charged with Medicaid fraud
December 6, 2007

FORT LAUDERDALE - Authorities arrested a therapist at her Fort Lauderdale home Thursday morning for falsifying more than $6,000 worth of claims to Medicaid, according to the state Attorney General's Office.

Jennifer Baxt, 34, is being held at the Broward County jail and faces a charge of grand theft.

Baxt was a contract employee for South Florida Family Centers Inc. in Tamarac. She was a licensed marriage and family health therapist and a licensed mental health counselor, according to documents.

The Medicaid Fraud Control Unit investigated Baxt after a mother told them that Baxt had sought reimbursement from Medicaid for behavior therapy that the woman's child did not receive, according to court documents.

Investigators discovered that between August and October in 2006, Baxt scheduled 71 appointments at the homes of 11 patients with developmental disabilities, but only arrived at seven sessions. Baxt still claimed financial compensation from Medicaid and even made up visit summaries and forged patient signatures, investigators said.

She could get up to five years in prison and fined $5,000 on top of restitution to the Medicaid program, according to officials.
Grassley: Review Antipsychotics In Nursing Homes
December 6th, 2007
By Ed Silverman

The Republican from Iowa and ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee is turning his sights to nursing homes. After reading how antipsychotics are overprescribed and Medicaid picks up the tab, Chuck wants the Inspector General for the Department of Health and Human Services to investigate patient safety, taxpayer liability and off-label usage.

“Along with overall quality of care provided to a nursing home resident, it’s of tremendous concern that federal programs are paying for prescription drugs that could be unnecessary or potentially harmful for people living in nursing homes,” Grassley says in a statement. “Independent scrutiny needs to be given to the prescribing practices going on with this very vulnerable population and what’s motivating those practices.”

Grassley has also asked the federal agency that oversees nursing home quality to report on its response to nursing homes that misuse prescription drugs, and he has asked Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca and Eli Lilly, which sell Risperdal, Seroquel and Zyprexa, respectively, for info about their marketing efforts with regard to nursing home residents. Grassley was responding to a story in The Wall Street Journal, although The St. Petersburg Times ran a similar piece recently, as well.  

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