B. Moore's first letter to CongressJune 15, 2000
Dr. Benjamin Moore
Congressman Mark Sanford
Dear Congressman Sanford,
I am writing to inform you about an investigation conducted by the state DEA against Dr. ******, and the behavior and manner in which they conducted a search and seizure in his office on 6/13/2000.
I was hired recently by his office to do pain management, which is part and parcel of my training as a Neurologist. I began work in his office approximately 3 weeks ago. Since my short tenure, I have seen Dr. ****** apply acceptable standards of practice according to the current understanding of the medical management of chronic pain. This includes the use of diagnostic evaluations such as imaging studies, nerve conduction and EMG evaluations as well as various techniques for pain control to include physical therapy, psychological counseling, antidepressants, anti-convulsants (for neuropathic pain), benzodiazipines for uncontrolled anxiety, and long acting opiates for chronic non-cancer pain. I have also seen many patients get back some semblance of a life they didn't have before Dr. ****** treated them!
Unfortunately, Dr. ****** and his office manager recently found inappropriate practice patterns had been established in his absence while his "Executive Director" was left in charge of supervising his practice…. According to Dr. ******, when extensive abuse of existing rules and regulations regarding the proper evaluation and management of such patients was finally brought to his attention, he immediately fired the Executive Director who had been left in charge of his practice, and set about straightening out the mess they made of the patient treatment programs.
I had been recruited at the point in time in which the previous doctors had departed leaving the clinic basically abandoned. Without other doctors these patients could not be cared for. Dr. ******'s DEA was reported to have expired while he fought to update the out of date medical practices on which the Medical Examiners of South Carolina based their rules and regulations regarding the use of controlled substances in pain relief. He was therefore unable to practice appropriately despite the fact he had a license to practice medicine
After I had been on the job approximately three weeks, (just four or five days after I signed a year's employment agreement), on Tuesday, 6/13/2000, at approximately 7:30 am, a fairly large contingent of South Carolina DEA agents arrived Dr. ******'s office, with guns drawn, according to the first employee to witness the "official investigation". When I arrived at about 9:00am, the agents immediately forced me to handover my computer briefcase. While the agent was searching my bag, I told him he should investigate the "real criminals, who had preformed the illegal acts now ascribed to Dr. ******….
The agent who was diligently searching my bag was not receptive to my comments and was extremely hostile and disrespectful. Actually, I felt these government agents treated us with the same careful consideration and fairness that the Turkish showed the Armenians earlier in the 20th century (minus the massacre part of course). My neighborly government DEA agent began asking for information that I believe he should not have a "right" or "need to know". I didn't think I had to give him my social security number, because it's for tax purposes only, by US law, and not for identification purposes, right? Also last I heard we are not required to carry passports or identification papers as proof of citizenship in the United States of America. In addition to that, I was not the one against whom the investigation was targeted, nor was I being charged with any crime. Nevertheless even though I was not violent or threatening in any manner, he told his fellow agent I had a "bad attitude" and ordered him to handcuff me. He also told me that "just
because you're a doctor doesn't mean your better than anyone else!" (At which point I thought that it was precisely because I was a doctor that I was being harassed in this manner.)
I digress. Anyhow I then asked to go to the restroom and an agent followed me to the bathroom. I thought perhaps he was going to accompany me into the john and perhaps watch me use the "potty", which thankfully he did not! I was then "interrogated" in a room with two agents and without an attorney on my behalf present. I acquiesced as they had conned me into thinking I must cooperate (fearing perhaps I be handcuffed and whisked away in a black van or something with handle less doors and a partition between the front and back seats of the vehicle.)
I was asked about whether there were narcotics on the premises, how many patients we saw a day, (suggesting that we saw hundreds for cash on the barrel!), whether we brought patients into a room "enmass" and wrote prescriptions for scheduled medications to whole groups of individuals, without examining them or investigating the etiology of their pain (all of which allegedly did happen when the "other doctors" were running the practice. Lastly they asked whether I had been asked to sign blank prescription forms, or whether Dr. ****** told patients to bring back unused medications to him (inferring improper disposal or perhaps for the reason of his personal consumption?)
Why the rough tactics of intimidation and threats of restraint by the state DEA on law abiding, tax paying peaceful citizens who have dedicated their lives to alleviating the pain and suffering of others? Last I heard there haven't been a lot of reports of crazed gun-toting doctors, shooting hapless federal agents, or strangling Medicare or Medicaid auditors during the pursuit of their inquiries. Why does the DEA have to subject law abiding employees in a doctor's office to similar tactics that they might use busting potentially violent, paranoid, met amphetamine users or suspected crack cocaine pushers surrounded by an arsenal of guns, and assault rifles.
Lastly, just an observation. There was a time in this country when people got the care they paid for, not what the government provided. Health care was never a right granted to everyone in the constitution, anymore than a turkey in every oven or a car in every driveway. It seems to me the more we let the government "provide" in terms of "security" the more we lose in individual freedom. I don't know about you but I had family members fight in bloody wars over such currently unpopular concepts such as freedom against totalitarianism and fascism. In other words not only was DEA there during the "search" for illegal contraband, but Medicaid also felt the need to "BUST-A-DOC".
Because I am … without a stomach for a fight, due to this raid on the doctor's practice, (and because I don't wish to become a target of any powerful governmental agency, particularly the DEA!) I handed in my resignation to Dr. ****** in order to separate myself from this mess just 3 to 4 days after I happily signed our employment agreement…. I'm out of a job having just moved my worldly possessions from California…..
Benjamin R. Moore