Five former state employees have been accused of abusing patients at Middle Tennessee Mental Health Institute and the TBI is investigating, according to WSMV-TV. “If those vulnerable patients are being mistreated by state employees, harmed or injured, we need action,” said State Rep. Gary Odom, D-Nashville.
…The five former employees (not named in the report) are accused of abusing two patients, one of them confirmed by the I-Team to be Matthew McDougal of Brentwood.
The termination records read that in two separate instances, once in April, and another in May, employees inflicted bodily injuries on McDougal and the other patient.
The reported abuse occurred in the forensic services program, where some of the most at-risk patients are located.
“If a patient is abused in that situation, there’s a failure of the system,” said Jeff Fladen, with the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
A spokeswoman for the TBI confirms on May 23, some 22 days after the last reported abuse, the Tennessee Department of Mental Health, which oversees the institute, asked the TBI to investigate.
The five employees were then fired the next month.
On the heels of a sex scandal involving a female patient, another woman has acknowledged having a sexual relationship with physician and U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais while she was under his medical care. She did so in an interview with the Chattanooga Times-Free Press.
The second woman described DesJarlais as “the nicest guy” and said he cooked dinner for her at their first get-together in 2000.
But she also said they smoked marijuana during their relationship and remembered DesJarlais prescribing her pain medication on dates at his home.
“His biggest thing that’s completely unethical is him just picking up women while he’s a doctor,” the woman said in an interview last week. “I mean, seriously, that’s his big no-no. … He’s just a hound.”
The woman said the affair lasted six months and included mutual illicit drug use.
“Scott was just a regular guy,” she said. “He smoked. I mean, he smoked pot. He [did] all that stuff.”
The woman’s remarks about marijuana use could not be independently verified.
DesJarlais is a Republican seeking re-election in the 4th District. In a prepared statement Saturday, his campaign did not dispute any specific allegations by the woman, instead condemning “personal smear campaigns that hurt families” and “have no place in politics.”
“This is not a credible story, and it seems that the Chattanooga Times Free Press has no interest in informing their readers about real issues facing Tennesseans but would rather focus solely on a 14-year-old divorce,” campaign manager Brandon Lewis said.
The woman lives in a 4th District county close to the Chattanooga area. The Times Free Press granted her anonymity but checked her driver’s license and verified her identity in DesJarlais’ divorce papers — her name is included in his ex-wife’s extensive list of “potential witnesses.” Court records and a family friend confirm that the woman and DesJarlais had an affair.
…Now in her 40s, the woman said she met DesJarlais as a patient in the mid-1990s and began dating him about five years later in the midst of his divorce.
She said DesJarlais’ early attempts at romance were “bizarre.” She recalled feeling strange about a general practitioner who encouraged her to call him at home. Eventually he phoned her and invited her over.
“He was the nicest guy — made dinner, supernice, tried to razzle-dazzle you with his conversation,” she said. “I don’t know exactly how it started, but I mean, when it did, he just kept on and kept on.”
Some dates occurred at the physician’s home, and other times they went out, the woman said. She remembered going by DesJarlais’ medical office to talk but recalled no romantic encounters there.
The woman said she kept DesJarlais as her doctor for some time after the affair. But after he kept trying to rekindle their relationship in settings outside his office, she said she eventually sought a different doctor.
—Note: Brandon Lewis, DesJarlais campaign manager, sent an email Sunday giving this response to the Chattanooga TFP story:
“The woman mentioned in this article has reached out to both the congressman’s wife and the paper to express concerns about her statements being taken out of context and factual inaccuracies contained in this article.
“It is clear that the Chattanooga Times Free Press has no interest in informing their readers about the real issues facing Tennesseans. Rather than focusing solely on a 14 year old divorce, why don’t they talk to the congressman’s wife, Amy, who he has been married to for more than 10 years?
“It speaks volumes that even Lincoln Davis recently said that he regretted his actions and that these types of personal smear campaigns that hurt families have no place in politics.”
News release from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington:
Washington, D.C. — Today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a complaint with the Tennessee Department of Health against Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-TN) for conducting an inappropriate sexual relationship with a patient in violation of state law.
Last week, it was reported that in 2001, while he was married, Rep. DesJarlais engaged in a sexual relationship with a patient. A transcript of a conversation between Rep. DesJarlais and the unidentified woman clearly demonstrates the pair began a sexual relationship when Rep. DesJarlais was her treating physician. The transcript also reveals the pro-life congressman urging the woman, whom he believed might have been pregnant with his child, to have an abortion. Rep. DesJarlais has not contested the authenticity of the transcript and has admitted to the relationship.
CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan stated, “Tennessee law is crystal clear: Doctors are prohibited from engaging in sexual relationships with patients. The only question remaining is, now that Tennessee authorities are aware of Rep. DesJarlais’ blatantly unethical and scurrilous conduct, what are they going to do about it?”
During the conversation, the woman blamed their predicament on Rep. DesJarlais, noting it was his “fault for sleeping with your patient.” Rep. DesJarlais responded that she had initiated the relationship by suggesting he ask her out after he called to check on her foot.
According to the Tennessee State Board of Medical Examiners’ Sexual Misconduct Statement and Policy, “sexual contact with a patient is misconduct and is considered to be a violation of T.C.A. Section 63-6-214(b)(1),” which prohibits unprofessional, dishonorable or unethical conduct. The policy makes clear that whether the patient consented to or initiated the sexual contact is immaterial; the physician is strictly liable. Possible penalties for violations include restrictions on a physician’s practice as well as the suspension or even revocation of his medical license.
Sloan continued, “It is hard to imagine behavior much more craven than a married doctor exploiting his position to conduct a sexual relationship with a patient. It is mind-boggling that when confronted with the patient/mistress’s possible pregnancy, this ardent pro-lifer urged her to have an abortion. How much hypocrisy can we stand? Where is Speaker John Boehner’s much-touted zero tolerance for unethical conduct now?”
— Note: Text of the letter to Department of Health is HERE.
In response to an emailed inquiry about the letter, Department of Health spokesman Woody McMillan responded: Anyone can file a complaint with our Complaints Division. The complainant does not have to be a Tennessee resident. Our investigators follow up on each complaint received. We could not speak to a time line, as each complaint is evaluated based on the issues involved.
At least five Tennessee physicians have been disciplined for having consensual sexual relationships with patients since mid-2005, according to the Chattanooga Times-Free Press’ review of state records. U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Jasper, isn’t one of them, despite conducting such a relationship with a patient he met on the job. His record shows no history of patient complaints, and he’s still a registered family practice physician whose license doesn’t expire until 2014.
But even though it’s at least a decade old, a phone transcript that revealed DesJarlais pressuring his former patient to abort a pregnancy could lead to disciplinary action.
“There is no statute of limitations on filing complaints against licensed health professionals,” said Shelley Walker, a spokeswoman for the Tennessee Department of Health.
Walker said “anyone who has information” on possible physician misconduct can file a report with the department’s complaints division. Complaints that can be substantiated are passed on to the Tennessee Board of Medical Examiners, which disciplines physicians and other health professionals.
The board never reveals the names of those who file complaints.
…An anti-abortion freshman legislator, DesJarlais often hypes his medical career — his campaign signs simply say “Dr. Scott DesJarlais.” He plans on returning to medicine after six terms in Congress.
In an interview Friday, DesJarlais said he exercised “poor judgment,” but doesn’t see the doctor-patient relationship as “a disqualifying issue” for a post-congressional career.
“I’m confident that a professional review would allow me to continue to practice medicine,” he said.
Revelations that Republican Congressman Scott DesJarlais had affairs outside his marriage and pushed a pregnant mistress to get an abortion were branded “disgusting” and “disqualifying” by his Democratic opponent Wednesday.
DesJarlais, seeking his second term as representative in Tennessee’s 4th Congressional District, did not deny the validity of a transcript of a conversation 12 years ago between himself and the pregnant woman. He refused requests for an interview.
DesJarlais spokesman Robert Jameson sent reporters an email described the reports as “gutter politics” and “character assassination.” He also called them “old news from the last election cycle that Tennesseans have already widely rejected.”
The latter is a reference to TV ads in 2010 aired by former Democratic U.S. Rep. Lincoln Davis, who cited court records of DesJarlais’ divorce wherein the Jasper physician was described threatening his former wife and as putting a pistol in his mouth and threatening suicide. DesJarlais, a doctor by profession, defeated Davis in the 2010 election.
Reports on the affairs and the abortion, however, had not been made public until published Wednesday by The Huffington Post, a politically-oriented Internet website. The Post said court records show DesJarlais has admitted to at least four affairs.
A pro-life, family-values congressman who worked as a doctor before winning election as a Tea Party-backed Republican had an affair with a patient and later pressured her to get an abortion, according to a phone call transcript obtained by The Huffington Post and posted today. The congressman, Rep. Scott DesJarlais of Tennessee, was trying to save his marriage at the time, according to his remarks on the call, made in September of 2000. And, according to three independent sources familiar with the call and the recording, he made the tape himself.
DesJarlais, who was provided a copy of the transcript by HuffPost, did not deny its contents, but in a statement released through his campaign characterized it as just another sordid detail dredged up by the opposition. “Desperate personal attacks do not solve our nation’s problems, yet it appears my opponents are choosing to once again engage in the same gutter politics that CBS news called the dirtiest in the nation just 2 years ago.”
That race featured charges culled from DesJarlais’ divorce from Susan DesJarlais, which was finalized in 2001. The filing included allegations that he held a gun in his own mouth for hours in one instance and that he “dry fired” a gun outside his wife’s bedroom in another.
DesJarlais’ campaign vigorously denied those charges in his 2010 race against Democratic Rep. Lincoln Davis, saying they were hauled out of history for political purposes and had not been deemed credible at the time.
But the new transcript and other revelations from court documents paint a more damning picture of a man who was a serial philanderer willing to push one of his lovers — whom he met as a patient with a foot problem — to terminate a pregnancy, even when he suspected he was the father.
“You told me you’d have an abortion, and now we’re getting too far along without one,” DesJarlais tells the woman at one point in the call while negotiating with her over whether he’ll reveal her identity to his wife. They then discuss whether he will accompany her to a procedure to end the sort of life the congressman now describes as “sacred.”
“You told me you would have time to go with me and everything,” the woman complains.
“I said, if I could, I would, didn’t I? And I will try,” DesJarlais says. “If I can [find] time, you’re saying you still will?”
“Yeah,” the woman answers.
News release from Senate Republican Caucus:
(NASHVILLE, TN), February 13, 2012 – A long list of State Senators in Tennessee — including Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey (R-Blountville), Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville), Senate Republican Caucus Chairman Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro), Senate Speaker Pro Tempore Bo Watson (R-Hixson) and Senate Judiciary Chairman Mae Beavers (R-Mt. Juliet) — are among 77 Tennessee lawmakers, the State of Florida, 25 other states, and the National Federation of Independent Business in filing as amicus parties (friends of the court) challenging the constitutionality of the individual mandate in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).
The individual mandate, which is the centerpiece of the new law, is the requirement that almost all people in the United States buy health insurance or pay a penalty to the IRS for failing to do so.
The brief was filed with the Supreme Court today in preparation for the oral arguments scheduled for March 27th and is one of a multitude of briefs filed laying out the unconstitutionality of individual mandates.
“The White House plan will stifle innovation and actually increase the cost of insurance,” said Lt. Governor Ramsey. “It is time that states push back to let Washington know that we are not going to stand by idly when this healthcare law so blatantly infringes on the constitutional rights of the states and the personal freedoms of our citizens.”
“This is one of the most important issues to be considered by the Court in our lifetime,” said Leader Norris. “State’s rights, individual liberties and our ability to keep the federal government from infringing those rights are at stake.”
“Our personal health care decisions should be managed by us and our health care providers, not politicians and bureaucrats in Washington,” said Chairman Beavers. “Never in our history has the U.S. government required its citizens as a condition of residency to purchase a particular product from a private company or government entity.”
U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson heard the case in Florida and declared the law unconstitutional on January 31, 2011. In his ruling, Vinson struck down the entire law after finding the individual mandate violated the Commerce Clause of the Constitution, and that the mandate could not be separated from the rest of the law. On March 8, 2011, the government filed a notice of appeal with the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. The appeals court also found the individual mandate unconstitutional, but ruled the individual mandate to be severable from the rest of the law, and found the remaining provisions “legally operative.” The Court of Appeals’ ruling was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which announced on November 14, 2011 that it will hear the appeal.
The case is especially important to Tennessee and several other states because these states have enacted Health Care Freedom Acts. The Tennessee Health Freedom Act, passed in 2011, provides that every person in Tennessee is free to choose, or not choose, any mode of securing healthcare services, and to purchase or not purchase health insurance, without penalty or threat of penalty. Tennessee asserts this right to protect the freedom of its citizens under the Tenth Amendment of the Constitution. This principle is emphasized in the amicus curiae brief filed today.
Another key provision under consideration by the nation’s high court is the constitutionality of the Medicaid amendments. The case from Florida says the federal healthcare act exceeds the enumerated powers by creating such a major expansion of the Medicaid program.
Link to Briefs: