Psychiatrist treats--and medicates--4141 patients in nursing homes, annually, with dangerous drug
Dr. Michael Reinstein provides care to a number of Chicago-area nursing homes and mental health facilities. So many, in fact, that the Chicago Tribune reports that during 2007 he wrote 'scripts for 4141 Medicaid patients alone. He relies heavily on a psychotropic medication, clozapine, that has been approved only for actively suicidal patients or schizophrenic patients who did not improve on another medication. It contains five "black box" health warnings. At one of Reinstein's homes, 300 of the 415 patients under his care were on the drug. Many of these nursing home patients suffered side effects "so severe that they trembled, hallucinated or lost control of their bladder function" and he has been sued numerous times alleging clozapine-related deaths.
A worker at one home reported that so many families were upset with Reinstein's prescribing practices that a security guard was hired to accompany him on his nursing home visits. According to the worker, he would closet himself in a room full of files and process his patients in a line at the doorway like a cattle-call, without even speaking to the individuals. The Tribune reported additional details:
Reinstein wrote more Medicaid prescriptions for Clozapine than all of the doctors in the state of Texas, added together. He gets government reimbursement for treating so many patients that if each patient was seen for 10 minutes, he would have to work 21 hours per day, seven days per week, according to the Tribune. He claims to see 60 patients per day (at widely dispersed facilities). He is the psychiatric medical director at 13 different nursing facilities. According to the Tribune, autopsy records suggest that at least three of his patients have died of clozapine intoxication. According to the FDA, clozapine is associated with more patient deaths than any drug other than oxycodone.
A second Chicago-area psychiatrist became concerned when he learned that Reinstein was treating more than 2,000 patients yearly, and filed a complaint with the State licensing board in 2003. Nothing has come of it.
Post-script: Reinstein was paid $490,000.00 for "research" and promotion" of Seroquel by AstraZeneca, over a ten-year period from 1997 to 2007. During that time he prescribed the drug for more than 1,000 Chicago-area patients, at a cost to taxpayers of $7.6 million dollars. The paper reports that he even recommended it for weight loss--despite the fact that it is associated with diabetes and weight gain. During that time, his patients were prescribed a "half-billion dollars" of AstraZeneca drugs. He and the company "mutually" severed ties in 2008. The nature of the relationship is described in exhibits in a Federal lawsuit, according to the Tribune.
Reinstein currently receives money to promote clozapine: he says he gets less than $25,000.00 per year. That makes me feel better.