Monday, April 21, 2014

Under a stay of commitment and "harassed to enroll into a research study at the University"

Many times over the past year or so, I have been contacted by people telling me of their experience with research misconduct in the Department of Psychiatry. Some have asked me to keep the communications confidential.  However, many have just vanished with no explanation.  After we have exchanged a few emails and made plans to meet or talk by phone, they have simply stopped responding.  Some of these people have been patients or families of patients, but at least two have identified themselves as health care professionals.

I don't know what to make of this, but I will confess that I find it alarming.  It would be one thing if this happened once or twice, but when it happens half a dozen times in a six month period, it is hard not to see a pattern.

Last spring, I posted a note on the Community Alliance Facebook page, asking if anyone knew of violations of "Dan's Law" -- in other words, mentally ill patients under a commitment order who were being recruited into research studies.  I got the following email message, but after only a couple of email exchanges -- which seemed quite cordial --- the person stopped responding.  I am posting the message with the name removed.  (The person did not ask me to keep the conversation confidential. My efforts to get in touch again over the past few weeks have gotten no reply.)

If you have had experiences like this, I would be grateful if you could get in touch with me; and if you have already contacted me and then decided not to follow through and speak further, I would be grateful to hear why.

Dear Mr. Carl Elliott,
I was referred to your Facebook page and the call for anyone having had issues with civil commitment and also being asked to join a research study. 

Our daughter was approached in 2011 while being an outpatient at the University of Minnesota psychiatric health clinic, she was 18 at the time.  My husband and I had been in the process of petitioning the court for Guardianship for her as she had reached her eighteenth birthday, and then would be without parental control as far as her mental health issues went.

We were shocked when she told us her doctors assistant at the clinic had tried to enroll her into a drug research study, and that she now was diagnosed as having BPD, Borderline Personality Disorder.  All of this took place over the course of a month.  We met with the county attorney's office and came to an agreement that we would be granted Guardianship with court approval.  We assumed that would take care of everything.  It didn't. 

Our daughter continued to regress and after having her hospitalized we were faced with having to have her civilly committed as mentally ill and dangerous to herself.  The hospital social services and her psychiatrist initiated the civil process and we understood that she would likely be released back home or sent to a facility for a longer recovery process.  She eventually was granted what is called a "stay," and informed by the court that she would now have a county case manager and have to reappear in court in 90 days for an evaluation. 

It was during this 90 day period that she was what I refer to as being harassed to enroll into a research study at the University by the same staff that had first seen her in the out-patient clinic.  The same psychiatrist and the same assistant.

We had numerous phone conversations with the University clinic and attempted to contact the psychiatrist but he never responded.  We then changed her care to another clinic and psychiatrist without any hassle.

I'm not sure if this is the type of information you are seeking, but I hope it is helpful. 


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