Throwing Down the Gauntlet in Support of Michael Langan, M.D.
A Three Part Expose’
Anne Phelan-Adams, M.D.
Back in 2006, internist and geriatrician at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), Dr. Michael Langan, had an outbreak of shingles on the left side of his face. He was prescribed Vicodin® for the pain which eventually resolved. But each time Dr. Langan tried discontinuing the medication, which is a synthetic opioid, he developed severe flu-like symptoms within 48 hours.
Believing that he would be treated fairly and confidentially, Dr. Langan consulted John Knight for advice about his debilitating abstinence symptoms. Knight was then an Associate Director at Physician Health Services, Inc. (PHS), an affiliate of Massachusetts’ physician licensing and disciplinary agency, the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine (BORIM). PHS is a Massachusetts-based, nonprofit Physician Health Program (PHP). PHS, like all state PHPs, supposedly help addicted physicians get the drug, alcohol and mental health treatment they need to keep their respective medical license and return to practice.
Heeding John Knight’s informal recommendations, Dr. Langan underwent drug testing which revealed a metabolite of the Vicodin® that his physician properly prescribed him, but no other drugs of potential abuse, including alcohol. PHS Director, Dr. Luis Sanchez, referred Langan to the nonprofit’s preferred addiction treatment facility – “The Talbott Center” in College Park, Georgia – where he stayed at his own expense for more than three months.
Dr. Langan came to Georgia’s Talbott Center in January 2007 with an exemplary record as a physician. In his thirteen years at Harvard Medical School and ten years at MGH, Langan was never professionally disciplined or threatened with a malpractice claim. He was highly regarded by his peers and patients. Langan had chosen to specialize in geriatrics, a branch of medicine requiring particular compassion, patience, wisdom and exactitude. Yet, Talbott Center discharged him with a diagnosis of alcohol dependence absent supporting history or evidence of withdrawal, and cognitive as well as psychological dysfunction. The center’s Medical Director had told Langan before any evaluation was underway that he was “in denial” and if he did not accept treatment for his “addiction”, he would never practice medicine again.
Continued . . .