of more than a hundred psychiatric hospitals
operating from the 80's until the early 90's with less than altruistic
motives (ie. for-profit). In less than a decade, NME had made billions of dollars by misdiagnosing teenagers with mild cases of depression
and then holding them against their will in asylums
until their insurance
coverage ran out. Several doctors would recieve kickbacks
if they referred troubled teens to the program.
Accounts of brutality
include months of "chair therapy" (sitting facing a wall for as much as 12 hours a day), electroconvulsive therapy
, and solitary confinement
without light for months -- all against the will of the patient.
Soon allegations of fraud
finally made the Justice
Department see the light. In several cases patients would get their diagnoses changed to increase potential revenue for the company (alcoholism
might pay $10,000, but depression
would get $50,000). The stakes were significanly raised when Dr. Stuckey, a high-ranking NME member and main whistle blower
, died alone on his boat under mysterious circumstances shortly before giving evidence to the House of Representatives
in 1992. NME finally settled for $379 million dollars -- the largest in American
history. One former chief executive of an NME hospital was also convicted of threatening the life of a former manager, writing: "The value of your life decreases every day. We have your address. So expect company one dark night when you least expect it. Your life is worthless now."
Afterwords, the company changed its name to Tenet, and is still one of the largest healthcare corporation
s in the world. As recently as 1999, the Federation of American Hospitals started a grassroots movement to oppose an expanded "Whistleblower's Act" in Congress
. The Federation happens to be a powerful special interest group
dominated by the two largest healthcare corporations in the U.S., one of whom is Tenet.
at its finest.