“Caveat Emptor” for Clients of Mental Health Practitioners in Connecticut

I’ve touched somewhat on this in a few entries but would like to expand a bit. As a client of a Mental Health Professional in Connecticut, in my opinion, you are not protected from the unethical or negligent practices of many mental health providers. I cannot speak of the psychiatric patients or the clients of psychologists…they have Licensing Boards. On the other hand there are no licensing boards for Licensed Clinical Social Workers, Marriage and Family Therapists, Licensed Professional Counselors or Licensed Drug and Alcohol Counselors. Connecticut is the only State in the Country that does not least have an Advisory Board for the above mentioned practitioners.
The only regulators of professional practice for these Mental Health Professionals (MHP) is the Office of Practitioner Licensing and Certification or as they call it “the department” Below is a list of professions under the direct authority of this office from the CT DPH website..

Sec. 8. Subsection (c) of section 19a-14 of the 2010 supplement to the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective October 1, 2010):
(c) No board shall exist for the following professions that are licensed or otherwise regulated by the Department of Public Health:

(1) Speech and language pathologist and audiologist;

(2) Hearing instrument specialist;

(3) Nursing home administrator;

(4) Sanitarian;

(5) Subsurface sewage system installer or cleaner;

(6) Marital and family therapist;

(7) Nurse-midwife;

(8) Licensed clinical social worker;

(9) Respiratory care practitioner;

(10) Asbestos contractor and asbestos consultant;

(11) Massage therapist;

(12) Registered nurse’s aide;

(13) Radiographer;

(14) Dental hygienist;

(15) Dietitian-Nutritionist;

(16) Asbestos abatement worker;

(17) Asbestos abatement site supervisor;

(18) Licensed or certified alcohol and drug counselor;

(19) Professional counselor;

(20) Acupuncturist;

(21) Occupational therapist and occupational therapist assistant;

(22) Lead abatement contractor, lead consultant contractor, lead consultant, lead abatement supervisor, lead abatement worker, inspector and planner-project designer;

(23) Emergency medical technician, advanced emergency medical technician, emergency medical responder and emergency medical services instructor;

(24) Paramedic;

(25) Athletic trainer;

(26) Perfusionist; [and]

(27) Master social worker subject to the provisions of section 9 of this act; and

[(27)] (28) On and after July 1, 2011, a radiologist assistant, subject to the provisions of section 20-74tt.

The department shall assume all powers and duties normally vested with a board in administering regulatory jurisdiction over such professions. The uniform provisions of this chapter and chapters 368v, 369 to 381a, inclusive, 383 to 388, inclusive, 393a, 395, 398, 399, 400a and 400c, including, but not limited to, standards for entry and renewal; grounds for professional discipline; receiving and processing complaints; and disciplinary sanctions, shall apply, except as otherwise provided by law, to the professions listed in this subsection

So reading the above one would assume that the department of public health has the resources to properly regulate mental health professionals and investigate complaints from the public regarding their services

I will say right now they do not…. and you are unprotected!

A bit of information regarding the DPH complaint process which can be found at http://www.ct.gov/dph/lib/dph/facility_licensing_and_investigations/pdf/consumer_guide.pdf

Here I will sort through the process and present the reality of what I experienced

THE INVESTIGATION AND YOUR ROLE AS A
COMPLAINANT OR WITNESS
During an investigation of a health care practitioner a department investigator will request copies of
the records pertinent to the care and services provided by the respondent. In certain instances it may be
necessary for the department investigator to request consent from the complainant or the parent in order to
obtain records from a practitioner. Your cooperation with this request will enable the department to
conduct a thorough investigation.

***This is a fact

In the course of the investigation, a department investigator may contact
witnesses and complainants in order to gather information.

***Not a single witness or reference was contacted during the investigation of my complaint

You may play a role in this part of the case.You can help the investigator by:
· trying to share every detail about the situation the investigator is asking you about, no matter how
minor or unrelated it may appear on the surface;

***I was asked only one question during the second filing of my complaint, none during the first. Verbal information I offered was “botched” and confused when placed in writing by the investigator

providing any documents that you think may be helpful. The investigator cannot ask for them if
he/she does not know they exist;
***The investigator doesn’t even ask if you have further information
The investigator will also request a statement from the Respondent detailing his response to your
allegations.
***This is standard. However the respondent does not receive your actual complaint as you wrote it…they receive a synopsis that has been interpreted ( or misinterpreted) by the investigator as to what you may mean by what you say…and they do not call you and ask. You can not review this letter prior to it being sent. In fact, after you send in your complaint you receive no information until AFTER they make a decision and close the case.

The department may ask professionals practicing in the same field as the respondent to review the
department’s case. These professionals are referred to as consultants. At times, the use of consultants may
cause a delay in the investigation due to the consultant’s busy schedule at his/her own practice, as well as
his/her responsibility to thoroughly evaluate the case. The reason for seeking the opinion of a consultant is
to determine whether the respondent’s alleged conduct falls below the standard of care for that field.
The investigation may take a few weeks or it may take longer than a year to complete. The length
of time of the investigation depends on the details and the complexity of the case.

***;Ahhh the consultant!…. This is the person who carries 100% of the decision in your case! You only get one review and it is by a peer of the kind of professional you dealt with…sound fair? Who is representing you? No one! The DPH claims this is a unbiased process. You have no guarantees of this!!! The reviewer could be friend or acquaintance with the person you filed a complaint about….you don’t know! There could easily be professional consideration given to the respondant …you don’t know. The person is said to be credentialed…you don’t know!

I do know that if I had to evaluate a peer of mine I would find it difficult to provide a completely unbiased opinion if it came to dealing with the way clients are attended to.

What this person decides is basically 100% of your case. The CT DPH does not have experienced and or educated personal in each field on staff. When it comes to the Mental Health Professions your case is handled by a Supervising Nurse Consultant….an R.N….not even an APRN!

At the “end” of my case the Supervising Nurse Consultant admitted this to me saying that she completely lacks any knowledge or expertise in the Mental Health field….and that no one on her staff is trained in the Mental Health Field. So they rely solely on the opinion of one consultant, whose name is “kept secret” (and redacted from all documents) and is a peer of the Mental Health Professional you filed a complaint about.

The average length of time to conduct an investigation is six months.
***You can plan on a year

During the investigation and the prosecution of the case you
may periodically contact the assigned investigator and/or attorney. They will keep you informed on the
progress of the case.
***They do not keep you informed on the progress of your case unless you call them. If you call more than they like, I called once a week after 6 months of waiting and hearing nothing after I filed my complaint for a second time, they will restrict your phone calls to one person who will be as vague as possible, often saying “it’s still pending…” or “we have nothing new yet”…no explanations given!

***The worst part of this I found was that after you file your complaint, at no time do you get to challenge the respionses of the respondant!!!!!
The respondant is sent request to respond to the allegations you make, then repsondant repsonds ….you have no opportuntiy to to write a rebuttal to what is said by the respondant! The respondant can fill his responses with lies and innaccurate statements! The file goes to the consultant , he evaluates it, and the decision is made. I can not understand how the Ct. DPH calls this a “fair process”. In order to rebut what the Therapist said I had to file a new complaint, this did not make the DPH happy!
And if I thought the first complaint took months to conclude…this one went on for a year, and I am not finished with it yet!

So buyer beware in Ct.! You are not protected from the acts of unethical Mental Health Professionals.

Please be aware of as well that you are unless you can afford an attorney you pretty much are dealing with this on your own….and for me it was uncharted territory!.
This post is not yet complete, but I am publishing what I have so far.

The deck is really is not stacked in your favor! You are going up a State Agency, A Peer consultant , The person who “hurt you” and an attorney! Also I will try to find the source of this….but from memory…80% of all complaints filed against Mental Health Practitioners Nationwide are dismissed from the start, and only 2% of the remaining 20% end up in a disciplinary process. You can also check out on line the CT DPH Regulatory Action reports
http://www.ct.gov/dph/cwp/view.asp?a=3115&q=387280&dphNav_GID=1601
It is interesting to see that few Mental Health Practitioners are disciplined vs. all others. They do not post the actaul number of complaints filed

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2 Responses

  1. my father is a massage therapist and this is a good paying job to and the job is easy “

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