Monday, August 11, 2008

Connecticut's Retaliation Machine

Dr. Peter Benet, and others, act to help authorities retaliate against whistle blowers. More should be prosecuted for their actions, just not one, here and there, when there are hundreds and thousands of illegal acts of officials, profiteering, obstructing justice, racketeering, and defrauding taxpayers.

DR. PETER BENET'S care of Anne Kristine Blake, pictured, was the subject of recent action by state health regulators. He is facing disciplinary action by the Department of Public Health. (MARK MIRKO / HARTFORD COURANT / July 31, 2008)

Psychiatrist Blumenthal Investigated In '02 Faces 2 Unrelated Complaints

On Feb. 14, 2002, Attorney General Richard Blumenthal asked Connecticut health regulators to yank Dr. Peter Benet's license to practice medicine, calling the psychiatrist a "physician who sacrificed his patients for money and power."

But the state didn't take action. Benet continued to see patients. Now he is facing disciplinary action by the Department of Public Health, based on two unrelated complaints.

Those complaints, Blumenthal said, might have been prevented if the health department had listened to him six years ago when he recommended that Benet's medical license be suspended or revoked.

"Tragically and unfortunately, these latest complaints vindicate the serious recommendations we made years ago," Blumenthal said. "We issued a scathing report that left no doubt about this physician arbitrarily denying medically necessary care to patients."

A spokesman for the Department of Public Health refused to explain why nothing was done six years ago, citing department policy. Blumenthal said his office is now looking into possible further legal action against Benet.

At the time that Blumenthal issued his 2002 report, Benet was the founder and medical director of Psych Management Inc., a firm that Anthem Blue Cross-Blue Shield hired to manage mental health care for Anthem's HMO.

Blumenthal found that Anthem's low payments to Psych Management, also known as PMI, combined with financial misdeeds by Benet, resulted in at least one patient, and probably others, being denied necessary mental health care.

"Dr. Benet devised a plan to bilk [PMI] of its assets and profit personally," Blumenthal's report alleges. At the same time that Benet was denying care to patients, Blumenthal contended, Benet was using company funds to support a lavish lifestyle.

"This report presents a picture of a physician driven by the promise of wealth to disregard health needs," Blumenthal said at the time.

Although Blumenthal's investigation was related to the psychiatrist's business practices, and not directly to his own care of patients, the attorney general said he had reason to suspect at that time that Benet could pose a risk to patients. He said his call for revocation or suspension of Benet's license — a move Blumenthal called "highly extraordinary" — was an indication of the seriousness of his concerns.

Earlier this year, Benet agreed to pay a $3,000 fine as part of a consent order he reached with the state in connection with a complaint that Anne Kristine Blake filed. Blake started treatment at Benet's South Windsor office about three months after Blumenthal issued his report in 2002. Although the names of patients who file complaints with the health department are kept confidential, Blake, of Manchester, has come forward and identified herself.

Health department investigators found that during his treatment of Blake, Benet "deviated from the applicable standard of care" by failing to adequately justify his diagnoses of post-traumatic stress disorder and bipolar disorder and by failing to coordinate his prescription for lithium — a drug used to treat bipolar disorder — with the diagnosis that Blake had a thyroid condition, documents show.

In addition to the fine, Benet was ordered to take a class in diagnosing, treating and documenting mood disorders.

The disciplinary action is listed on Benet's physician profile, a public record designed to help would-be patients make more informed decisions when selecting a doctor. It was not, however, reported to the National Practitioner Data Bank, a federal clearinghouse of doctors who have run into disciplinary trouble.

William Gerrish, a spokesman for the Connecticut Department of Public Health, said the federal data bank requires the state to report only reprimands and other more serious disciplinary actions against a doctor's license. He said the state was not required to report the action against Benet because it was only a fine.

Another Case

A second case against Benet is scheduled to be heard by the Connecticut Medical Examining Board at hearings set to begin Sept. 26. The board is a volunteer panel of doctors that works alongside the health department to monitor members of the profession. Cases are usually sent to the examining board when a settlement cannot be worked out between the health department and the doctor.

In that case, a patient identified as P.M. sought care at Benet's South Windsor office in 2004 — two years after the Blumenthal report. In a complaint to the health department, the patient accused Benet of prescribing a dangerous combination of medications.

In a statement of allegations against Benet sent to the medical examining board in May, health department investigators said that Benet prescribed two drugs to treat schizophrenia that could be harmful to people with high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes, both of which the patient had.

Benet also prescribed five medications for insomnia at once without ordering a sleep study or warning the patient about the possible side effects, which included deterioration of the patient's mental status, the allegations say.

Benet said he would like to respond to the allegations against him, but cannot because he is bound by an obligation to protect his patient's confidentiality. But he maintained that he did not harm either of the patients who made the complaints.

"If you look at the consent decree, it really comes down to technical documentation issues," he said. "In neither case did any harm come to the patient from anything I did or didn't do."

The consent order in the Blake case says that the department reviewed a large sample of Benet's documentation of cases that required coordinating prescriptions for mood disorders and other conditions and found that his "current practice meets the standard of care."

Bad Reaction

Although Blumenthal's allegations against Benet were the subject of press reports, Blake said she found no public records of complaints against Benet when she found his name on the Internet and made an appointment with him in May 2002.

She was recovering from a back injury and had been embroiled in a dispute with the state Department of Mental Retardation, where she had worked with patients in group homes since 1993.

Then on March 14, 2002, she learned that her closest friend, Renea Ervin, then 34, had died. Ervin's husband, Michael Ervin, was eventually convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison. During the trial, Blake sat in the courtroom, holding her friend's picture.

"It wasn't just little stresses," Blake said. "They were huge."

But she said the medications Benet prescribed made matters worse.

"I couldn't walk, I couldn't talk, I was not a good mother, I couldn't function," Blake said.

After two years of treatment, Blake left Benet's practice.

In July, she sued Benet in small claims court, seeking $5,000 in damages. She wants Benet to cover co-pays on future prescriptions of alprazolam, better known by its brand name, Xanax, and for future psychiatric care.

She said in an interview that she has been dependent on the tranquilizer since Benet prescribed it for her anxiety and panic attacks.

She said she is functioning well now, working as a volunteer on the presidential campaign of Barack Obama and traveling back and forth to Jamaica, where she donates books to poor, rural schoolchildren.

But she says she remains on disability and continues to be unable to work. And she wishes she had been warned before she sought care from Benet.

"I was very vulnerable," Blake said. "I believed he was trying to help me."

Contact Hilary Waldman at

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Kristine Blake tells of Connecticut DMR Abuse

Steven G. Erickson interviews Blake back in 2006:

Steven G. Erickson interviews Kristine Blake, audio, June 6, 2006:


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kathleen, (DPH's so called INVESTIGATOR)

I have sent you very explicit details of the lethal doses of various medications that Dr. Peter Benet prescribed for an illness I NEVER HAD.
I spoke with my primay care physician yesterday. Dr. Michael Deshaines (he took over for GALVIN when he took the DPH Commissioner position)
We went over the medications and doses prescribed. Dr. Deshaines agreed that: No BLOOD TESTS for LITHIUM are in my chart. He was never notified of any meds he prescribed. Had he know, as he is suppose to be Cc'd on this, he would have stepped in and put an end to the notion I suddenly turned BIPOLAR in my 40's.

Your lack of response and obvious lousy investigation leaves me no alternative then to file another complaint. This one will have my PRIMARY CARE physicans letter stating: I AM NOT BIPOLAR, there was never blood work done, which is CRUCIAL to this medication.
How could DPH have looked through my file and not instantly seen A RED FLAG????
1800mg of LITHIUM to start off on??? Risperdol, lamictal, seroquel, ambien, effexor, xanax, xanax xr

Dr. Deshaines has referred me to a neurologist as I have permanent side effects including memory loss, burred vision, parkinsonia, confusion, tremors, coordination problems....the list goes on.

This issue is not going away. Your inability to reply to someone who waited 2 years for your finding, which obviously missed a host of issues you turned your head to is inexcusable.

I would appreciate a response to the numerous emails I have sent you. I had to google all the meds he prescribed and do my own investigation. Perhaps you should hire me to do this, since DPH "dropped the pill bottle" on the admitted "deviation of care" and "no blood work" on medications that can be fatal if not monitored.

I am Cc'ing all agencies and will continue to do so until I am properly reimbursed for all the co-pays past and future on this travesty of a circumstances.
This has been life altering as well as financially dibilitating for myself andmy family.
I BELIEVE DR. Benet the CHRO and Dept. of MENTAL RETARDATION, were trying to kill me with lethal doses of medication of a drug I should never have been on. THIS IS NOT OVER!!!!!

TIME TO GET TO WORK and fix past problems. The TIME IS NOW~

Thanks for a prompt reply.....
"Still alive and breathing"

Saturday, August 30, 2008 1:35:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dr. Peter Benet and his pricey low life attorneys are trying to get my SMALL CLAIMS LAWSUIT moved to REGULAR DOCKET. This is to protect rich, powerful doctors so that they can keep the "whistleblowers" either dead or incapacitated.
Department of Public Health should be under INVESTIGATION for their extreamly negligent, view, of my FILE and also my Primay physicians file that shows he was NEVER AWARE OF THE LETHAL DOSES OF LITHIUM I WAS PRESCRIBED. Coincidentally, at the same time I was settling my CHRO complaint. A person does not suddenly turn BIPOLAR in their forties. This was a very calculated action, and the STATE OF CONNECTICUT and the ATTORNEY GENERALS office need to be investigated by another state, or the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT.
They have not responded to my follow up issue of being PRESCRIBED LITHIUM by DR. PETER BENET, without ANY BLOOD WORK. This medication requires bloodwork before and 5 days after it is given, and for many weeks. I was on (2) 450mg tablets 2 x a day to START! ARE THEY KIDDING ME????
I should have never been on it at all. That is why it was HIDDEN from my PRIMARY CARE DOCTOR. HE IS LIVID.
Sorry, STATE OF CONNECTICUT, but I am taking this to WASHINGTON. Dr. Galvin was my doctor for over 10 years before becoming the Commissioner of DPH. Now he is a DIRT BAG STATE EMPLOYEE with ZERO ethics for people!
God put me here to expose the corruption of people like you, paid with our tax dollars. CONNECTICUT is #1 in CORRUPTION~

Saturday, August 30, 2008 1:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (CHRO) should be shut down and turned into a homeless shelter for whistleblowers~

Saturday, October 04, 2008 4:10:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just filled out a letter that will go to Washington, on this website. It will be emailed, specifically to Chris Dodd & John Larson.
This is a fight, I do not plan to concede to. It is a letter you agree to, and then submit through this website. It took 2 minutes. They did all the work, just fill in name, email, address, agency you worked for. THIS NEEDS TO BE ADDRESSED. ENOUGH!

Saturday, October 04, 2008 4:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Time to fly the AMERICAN FLAG upside down....signals we are in distress....and clearly...we are~

Saturday, October 04, 2008 4:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was a patient of Dr Benet's and was having serious mood problems, anxiety, insomnia and PTSD. My heart goes out to the people who were misdiagnosed and prescribed things they weren't suppose to be on; I however never had any complications or issues with Dr Benet's treatment. I had a sleep study done by my PCP so he said I didn't need to do another one (it was the same yr that I became a patient) and he ordered constant bloodwork for me to make sure everything was ok w the medications he prescribed. He listened to me when I told him something wasn't working or made me feel worse and he either changed the dosage of the medication or changed the medication altogether. He even let me be on a payment program bc my co-pay was very high. My PCP was given copies and notification of everything Dr Benet did, from simple bloodwork to putting me on new medications w the dosage and any changes he made.

I know there are people out there that feel he is a horrible doctor, but I can only speak for myself and I feel if I never sought help and found him I would not be where I am today. I'm very happy and my problems are under control. I feel that patients need to ask a lot of questions from ANY Doctor that is prescribing them medication and should also take the time to either read up on the diagnoses and medications prescribed or talk to their pharmacist and or PCP. I am very lucky where my field of work is neuropsychology so I know a lot about mental illnesses and the medications used to treat different disorders. Patients need to do their part when taking medication and seeking help. The doctors can only do so much and they are ONLY HUMAN. Mistakes are bound to happen sooner or later, but if you're doing your part as a patient than you can help minimize the amount of mistakes made and also stop them from happening to you.

Monday, December 17, 2012 1:03:00 PM  
Blogger Anne-Kristine said...

That was an ignorant response.
I was in no condition to research what the DOCTOR is prescribing. I knew xanax was bad, and we argued about that specific, addictive, drug.
It is 2014 and I was switched to klonopin from xanax, but nobody wants DR. PETER BENETS malpractice.
They fear I will have a seizure and croak, so keeping me on a benzo, and BENET IS STILL OUT THERE, writing prescription.
WELCOME TO AMERICA..where you get a foot up your ass for healthcare.

Thursday, October 30, 2014 4:06:00 PM  

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