Child psychiatry in the state of Florida has an unpleasant history. Juvenile delinquents and foster children alike have been the victim of misdiagnosis and over prescription by child psychiatrists with sometimes shady pasts.
Dr. Dorval, a child psychiatrist hired to treat and medicate jailed children in Florida had formerly pleaded no contest to a felony grand theft charge. He had already used juvenile delinquents in state custody to bilk the government out of funds.
There are other cases of child psychiatrists taking jobs with the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) after having been cited for law breaking or making grave medical errors in their past.
Dr. Dorval would have failed a state-mandated background check were he given one. In the late 1990s Dorval was found to be using bogus counselors to bill medicate for over $350,000.
All these claims were fraudulent, and included his billing the government for round the clock therapy. The children he used for this scheme were either in foster care, juvenile delinquents or homeless.
The child psychiatrist was charged with four felonies in Broward, but after pleading no contest to one count of grand theft in 2004 Dorval was allowed to keep his medical license after paying $10,000. His punishment? He was suspended and reprimanded, then put on four years of probation.
However, this plea did disqualify Dorval from seeing juvenile delinquents. Despite this, his employer (Miami based Compass Health Systems) sent him to the Broward Juvenile Detention Center in late 2007. His background was not checked.
In another example, Dr. Charles Dack had prescribed a dangerous cocktail of antidepressants and painkillers to one of his adult patients for six years. He increased her dosage to a toxic level for 2 ½ years, resulting in her death at the age of 42.
Yet he was allowed to prescribe drugs to jailed children.
In just two years, the state of Florida purchased huge amounts of powerful antipsychotic drugs for kids in state-run jails and other programs. The prescriptions were not tracked, and the child psychiatrists, based on their own opinions were given free rein to dose these kids.
Another such child psychiatrist was Dr. Samuel McClure. While practicing in Orlando, he diagnosed an 11 year old boy, David Morganthal, with ADD. McClure prescribed powerful drugs, mirtazapine (which is not approved for use in children) and citalopram, an antidepressant, for David.
This again ended in tragedy. The youngster’s mother discovered David’s lifeless body on the floor of her mobile home. He was only four foot 2 inches and weighed 49 pounds, and was discovered to be way overmedicated due to his small size. The autopsy concluded he had most likely died from heart problems and a seizure caused by his reaction to the drugs.
David’s mother filed a suit alleging medical negligence against McClure and the health care company he worked for. Yet while the suit was pending, this child psychiatrist was hired to care for children at two separate facilities under the DJJ. (Frances Walker Halfway House and Brevard Group Treatment Home.)
Just a year later, McClure’s insurance company settled the suit for $500,000, yet McClure continued to work in DJJ programs.
Our troubled youth deserve better. To allow psychiatrists with shady pasts to drug juvenile delinquents and foster children is an act of supreme neglect, if not outright sadism. Our children are our future, and should not be used as pawns or a means to bilk the government out of much needed funds for the personal profit of a few unworthy child psychiatrists.