One has to wonder. If the State legislature had been aware of the details of the investigation into Adam Lanza’s psychiatrist, Dr. Paul Fox, prior to passing sweeping, costly mental health legislation, PA 13-3, would the vote have gone the same direction?
Let’s consider for a moment the facts of Dr. Fox’s surrender of his license to practice medicine in not only Connecticut but, also, New York. Ablechild recently requested and received the publicly available investigative file on the circumstances surrounding Adam Lanza’s psychiatrist’s fall from psychiatric grace and, perhaps, his decision to flee the country.
The State Department of Public Health received a complaint about Dr. Fox from Yale New Haven Hospital in March of 2012. A female patient of Dr. Fox had reported detailed information about a “consensual” sexual relationship with Dr. Fox and, by April of 2012, the State Department of Public Health had begun its investigation.
The investigative documents are, in a word, sickening. The 59-year old Fox had engaged in a sexual relationship with a 19-year old patient he supposedly was “treating” for mental illness. Dr. Fox had become the patient’s counselor while employed at Western Connecticut State University Counseling Center and when fired from the University for “ethics” violations, continued to “treat” the patient at his Brookfield office.
In substantiating the sexual relationship, the patient provided detailed documentation, including an inordinate number of written references by Dr. Fox about his private parts, and information about other female patients that reportedly had sexual relationships with the psychiatrist – one threatening to bring a malpractice suit against him. Given the psychiatrist’s apparent proclivity for being sexually active with his female patients, one can only surmise he may qualify as a serial sexual predator.
More importantly, during Dr. Fox’s “treatment” of this 19-year old patient, he not only was prescribing numerous – “three or four” – psychiatric mind-altering drugs, but also was providing the patient with free drug samples (page 69 of report). According to the patient’s mother, “she was turning into a zombie.”
Dr. Fox billed the mother’s insurance for the patient’s drug “treatment,” but when the psychiatrist and the patient “became friends” Fox no longer billed for “counseling services.”(page 68 of report)
The “consensual sexual relationship” between a 59-year old doctor and 19-year old patient lasted about two years, with the good doctor ending with a note saying “please don’t contact me.” Absolutely pathetic!
But why is this investigation of Dr. Fox important and what does it have to do with Adam Lanza and the State’s rush to institute increased mental health services?
First, this investigation raises red flags about the public’s right to know when doctors/psychiatrists are fired for “ethics” violations from a State University, tasked with providing mental health services for teenagers. Furthermore, was Western Connecticut State University aware of Dr. Fox’s sexual relationships with students at the university and, if so, did the university file a report with the Department of Public Health or any state oversight agency?
Additionally, on December 17, 2012 (three days after the Sandy Hook incident) police conducted a telephone interview with Dr. Fox, who is living in New Zealand, inquiring about his “treatment ” of Adam Lanza and the whereabouts of the doctor’s mental health records. (Investigation document 00260339 -Book 7)
Dr. Fox, advised police that he “vaguely recalls treating Adam Lanza.” Dr. Fox further advised that the only records he had in New Zealand were billing records and explained that “all of his medical records pertaining to clients he treated in the United States are currently in storage in the United States.”
Twenty-four hours later, Dr. Fox, contacted police, explaining “any medical records pertaining to Adam Lanza have been destroyed since it has been over five years since he last treated him (per state statute he is allowed to destroy any files over 5 years old).” Dr. Fox further explained that “Adam was about 15 years of age when he last saw him.”
If Dr. Fox last saw Adam Lanza in 2007, his medical record retention, according to the Regulations of Connecticut State Agencies Medical Records 19a-14-42, “unless specified otherwise herein, all parts of a medical record shall be retained for a period of seven (7) years from the last date of treatment, or, upon the death of the patient, for three (3) years.”
Dr. Fox, upon surrendering his license, agreed to adhere to the regulations regarding medical records. So, if the doctor last saw Adam Lanza in 2007, he destroyed Lanza’s mental health records two years too early.
More than that, is it not odd that Dr. Fox would initially tell police that his medical records were in storage in the U.S., then twenty-four hours later revise his statement, declaring them destroyed? Of course, Dr. Fox’s billing records would yield a great deal of information, especially about the drugs prescribed to Lanza, but apparently the police did not follow that lead. Why?
There’s little doubt that Dr. Fox is material to the Sandy Hook investigation. Fox is reported to have been Adam Lanza’s “primary psychiatrist” and, therefore, key to understanding not only Lanza’s mental status but also his drug history. (Investigation document 00085896-Book 8 email to Dr. Fox from Nancy Lanza)
Because the State Police Report provides no mental health information about Lanza since his “treatment” by Dr. Fox in 2007, due to his obvious questionable ethical behavior, is it possible Dr. continued to treat Lanza? Dr. Fox could answer this question by making public the billing records. The State Police, however, did not request the records.
The larger picture, though, is the State’s rush to implement increased mental health services (Public Act 13-3) when not only was there no investigative information to support the increase, but the psychiatrist “treating” Lanza had lost his license due to ethical violations and fled the country.
If the State legislature had known about Dr. Fox’s egregious ethical violations, his obvious violation of state medical record retention regulations and his excessive prescribing of psychiatric drugs, would the vote have gone the same way?
This, of course, is the problem with political crisis management. The State legislature acted without the necessary information to make informed decisions. Given the above information, most would logically conclude that rather than implementing costly increased mental health services, what actually was needed was a top-down review of the kind of mental health services being provided.
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This article first appeared on Sheila Matthews’ blog,
Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.