AN ATTORNEY AND A POLICEMAN IN THE EXAMINATION ROOM?
(Alen J. Salerian, MD) To say that a policeman and an attorney have been present in the examination room of many doctors may sound dramatic, yet has been an unnerving reality. This is because the practice of medicine has been under the control of various federal and state agencies with serious damage to individual rights and with the active promotion of a phantom war on drugs and doctors. My name is Alen J. Salerian. For over 40 years I have been practicing psychiatry in the nation’s capital and have enjoyed the privileges of being the former chief consultant to the FBI as well as the medical director of adult services at PIW, a private psychiatric hospital, and in the last decade the director of The Salerian Center for Neuroscience and Pain. Our center is dedicated to offer hippocratic and scientifically sound medicine.
What does hippocratic medicine mean? It means placing the needs of a patient before any other influence including the physician’s own interest. If a physician is worried about his or her well being – for instance, her licensure or DEA privileges – and making clinical decisions influenced by personal interests he or she may be letting Hippocrates down. My concern about the open violations of the hippocratic medicine with frequent intrusions into patient privacy were triggered by witnessing numerous experiences of some of my patients. In a period over one year, I noticed a pattern where some of my patients – to be specific – 28 of them – were stopped for what appeared to be routine traffic violations. What would occur subsequently was something for high drama. Many of them were forced to spend the night in prison with charges of drug trafficking simply because having in their possession medications prescribed by me. Not only the legal search unwarranted by an apparent traffic stop, but the imprisonment and the later events culminating into a 6-month ordeal with either dropped charges or exoneration of any wrongdoing seemed unusual.
The common denominator in all the cases was all patients were Salerian Center patients receiving treatment for mental and physical pain. How did a local policeman in a small town in Virginia, West Virginia or North Carolina know what the patient was taking and who the treating attending was, was the question occurred to me when I learned that often the officers would question the driver about their doctor’s practice. In one occasion when a young, DK, from War, West Virginia, refused to elaborate he was severely beaten and taken to prison with charges of assault on a police officer, although despite his moans and polite words, “Sir, please don’t hit me,” later heard in taped conversations. Indeed, this was DK’s lucky point upon his release with a substantial amount of a bond he would learn that 2 youngsters with their phone cameras had indeed filmed the incident revealing the police brutality and the misrepresentations that led to his arrest. At present, DK is in the process of suing the city of War and the police department for the injuries he suffered.
It is important to come back to the main point, however. How could this happen in the United States where confidential patient information would end up in the hands of the police to be used against an innocent citizen as it happened with DK? Part of this operation is currently funded with funds identified as HIDTA (High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas) for a phantom war on drugs funneled by funds from federal government to bring high tech so that doctor, pharmacy, medication information would instantly flow into the hands of local policemen in making arrests. Evidence seems also pretty compelling that for whatever purpose this system is now contaminated and used as a money making operation where generous bonus systems reward vigilant policemen to be more vigilant with drivers whom they already know are pain patients and thus sitting ducks to be locked up and fried unless they can afford good and expensive lawyers.