The state defied an Office of Open Records ruling and took the matter to court to conceal the names of doctors prescribing to kids confined in its six correctional facilities.
The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services insisted the physicians who care for and prescribe to the state’s most chronic or violent youth offenders would be endangered if their names were made public.
PublicSource requested the names of the doctors with whom the state contracts to determine their qualifications, disciplinary history and if they’re taking payments from drug companies.
The request was part of a larger investigation that showed worrisome rates of psychiatric medications prescribed to the residents of the state’s secure youth development centers and forestry camps. Experts say the meds, some of which carry severe health risks, are being used to drug the kids into behaving.
The kids can be dangerous. Most who end up in the rural centers and camps have been in court time and time again. Many have handled guns and drugs; assaults and robberies are among the most common offenses.
But others who work with the same kind of kids found it troubling that there was so much concern over keeping the doctors anonymous.
Dr. Terry Lee, a child and adolescent psychiatrist to adjudicated delinquents in Washington state, said it’s not a good sign.