Summary:

Paragraphs 18 through 20  read:  "In 1995, he began treating Laurel Burson for severe depression. The two fell in love during the counseling sessions and Burson was recommended to another therapist, Hageseth said.

The personal relationship with Burson did not turn physical, Hageseth said, until after each person gave up on their marriages in 1998 and divorced.

But Burson's ex-husband asked the state medical board to file a complaint alleging Hageseth had violated several statutory provisions as a result of his relationship with Laurel. The board stripped Hageseth’s medical license in 1999 ­ a decision he says caused his life to spiral out of control.

Paragraphs 41 & 42 read:  "'Each of us has seriously considered our own suicides,'  Christian Hageseth said.

Laurel Hageseth says she's been taking selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs – a class of medication that includes Prozac – for about 20 years to treat depression. Hageseth says he's taken SSRIs for about 15 years and that he "would not be alive if not for medication."

Paragraph 5 reads: "The mental illness has at different times directly or indirectly led the 68-year-old former psychiatrist down paths to a felony conviction, divorce, remarriage, the loss of his medical license, open heart surgery and suicidal thoughts."
 
SSRI Stories Note:  The Stanford student who committed suicide on the Prozac prescribed to him on line by  Hageseth is a case in SSRI Stories: Here is the original story:  http://ssristories.drugawareness.org/show.php?item=1773



http://www.coloradoan.com/article/20090426/UPDATES01/90426005



Fort Collins psychiatrist defends Internet prescriptions; wants to move on

BY NATE TAYLOR • NateTaylor@coloradoan.com • April 26, 2009

The mental illness has at different times directly or indirectly led the one-time psychiatrist down paths to a felony conviction, divorce, remarriage, the loss of his medical license twice, open heart surgery and suicidal thoughts.

And all those events happened in the last 11 years after the 68-year-old spent a career counseling those with mental illnesses.

Despite those hardships and a possible 9-month jail sentence, Hageseth says he wants to dedicate the rest of his life to helping low-income people dealing with depression receive proper care.

Hageseth pleaded guilty in February to practicing medicine without a license in California after he ad-mitted to prescribing a generic form of Prozac through an online phar-macy in 2005 to John McKay, a mentally ill University of Stanford student who later killed himself.

And although McKay's family claimed in a civil suit the drug made their son more depressed, it was determined the antidepres-sant Hageseth prescribed did not cause McKay's death.

Charges were still filed against Hageseth for practicing medicine in the state of California without a license.

Hageseth prescribed the drug from his Fort Collins home knowing McKay lived in California and that he was not licensed to practice there.

But to fully understand how Hageseth now finds himself in the precarious situation facing jail time and bankruptcy, he says it's important to comprehend why he's made the choices he has.

Losing license
Hageseth says he treated his now wife, Laurel Burson, for severe depression ending in 1995. The two fell in love during the counseling sessions and Burson was recommended to another therapist.

The personal relationship with Burson did not turn physical, Hageseth says, until after each got divorced in 1998.

But Burson's ex-husband asked the state medical board to file a complaint alleging Hageseth had violated several statutory provisions as a result of his relationship with Laurel.
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Eventually Hageseth's medical license was stripped ­ a decision he says caused his life to spiral out of control.

In 2001, the Colorado Court of Appeals gave him his license back, but Hageseth says his reputation was ruined and he started conducting medical studies before deciding to fill online pre-scriptions through JRB Solutions, Inc.

"My decision to start prescribing online was for two reasons: I needed to make a living," Hageseth said in an interview with the Coloradoan at his Fort Collins home last week. "And two: Because there are 71 million people who don't have health insurance or their coverage is so limited they can't make an appointment. … In my mind I was doing something good.

While working for JRB Solutions, Hageseth would only refill orders and relied on the integrity of those seeking medication not to lie on questionnaires.

And when McKay lied on his form saying he had previously been prescribed the drug fluoxetine by a physician, Hageseth unknowingly provided the drug to McKay for the first time.

"I knew I was stepping outside the bounds," he said. "I admit it doesn't meet the standard of care."

The practice of prescribing drugs through the Internet and using other technological advancements to provide health care is known as telehealth, and Hageseth's lawyer, Carleton Briggs, says that form of care is in grave danger after his client's conviction.

"The ramifications of this case are huge," said Briggs, a California attorney.
"What happens if a California patient goes outside California and wants to be treated? My advice to that doctor is to deny treatment."

Prosecutors in San Mateo County, however, see the case as an example of protecting residents in their state from an unlicensed doctor and as a reminder to doctors to do what they already should be doing: meeting with patients face-to-face before prescribing drugs.

"Anyone should be concerned about prescribing drugs to someone they've never met or someone they've never examined their medical history," said Karen Guidotti, an assistant district attorney in San Mateo County.
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Considering suicide
After almost 11 years of marriage, Hageseth and Laurel have been in the public eye and endured hardships, but none greater than the one they are facing now.

The Hageseths have nearly gone broke fighting the criminal and civil allegations since 2005 and the strain took its biggest toll on Hageseth in November.
While the outcome of the criminal charges against him was still uncertain, Hageseth underwent open-heart surgery and is still taking medication to treat his heart condition.

Dealing with financial, legal and health problems, the Hageseths said they are doing their best to cope with the mental damage as well.
"Each of us has seriously considered our own suicides," Hageseth said.
Laurel Hageseth says she's been taking for about 20 years to treat depression. Hageseth says he's taken medication for about 15 years and that he "would not be alive if not for medication."

"I'm draining Chris trying to make sense of it all," Laurel Hageseth said of her mental anguish. "I've felt demanding."

And while his wife wor-ries about depleting his emotions, Hageseth worries about his wife’s financial well-being.

"I've had thoughts that the only way this woman can have financial wealth in the future is for me to die and her collect on the life insurance," Hageseth said.

Still dreaming big
Despite his well documented past and a new label as a convicted felon, Hageseth is looking for donors to fund Depression Care Access, Inc., a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization focused on providing financial assistance through the Internet to uninsured and underinsured Americans dealing with symptoms of depression.
The project would allow people to take an online screening test for depression and provide vouchers to take to a physician.

A $50 voucher would pay for an initial visit to a doctor, where recipients would bring the results of their online tests, and the doctor would make a diag-nosis and prescribe treatment.

A $25 voucher would pay for a second visit, where the doctor would determine if any changes in treatment were warranted.
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Recipients would also receive a list of pharmacies that charge about $5 for a month's supply of the prescribed medication.

"I am not going to let my life only have the meaning of the events in California," Hageseth said, acknowledging a tough road for a convicted felon.

"There's a large history of people who have done wrong and turned around and did right," he said.

Help for low-income people with mental health issues is a void that needs to be filled, said Jill Golke, program manager for the Health District of Northern Larimer County's Commu-nity Mental Health and Substance Abuse Partnership.

"It can be a struggle for people to find those ser-vices if they are underinsured or don't have insur-ance," Golke said. "But in our community we do have resources that people can access to help them find services."

While there may be a need for the services DCA would offer, Hageseth said if he is sentenced to jail time rather than an alternative sentencing unit, the project will fail.
Alternative sentencing is a possibility, but will have to be determined by Larimer County Sheriff Jim Alderden, Guidotti said.

Alderden said he wouldn't allow Hageseth to serve his time in jail unless the county is compensated for the costs. He also said he has not had any communication with anyone from the California judicial system.

A June 5 hearing in San Mateo County in California will determine a date for Hageseth to surrender.

Alderden said he's not exactly sure how it will be determined if Hageseth will serve jail time or serve through work release or weekend work programs because he's never encoun-tered this situation before.

While the situation is in limbo and Hageseth doesn't have say in the matter, he says he just wants a chance to make DCA succeed.

"Let me make my company work and let me save some lives," he said.


Eventually Hageseth's medical license was stripped ­ a decision he says caused his life to spiral out of control.

In 2001, the Colorado Court of Appeals gave him his license back, but Hageseth says his reputation was ruined and he started conducting medical studies before deciding to fill online pre-scriptions through JRB Solutions, Inc.

"My decision to start prescribing online was for two reasons: I needed to make a living," Hageseth said in an interview with the Coloradoan at his Fort Collins home last week. "And two: Because there are 71 million people who don't have health insurance or their coverage is so limited they can't make an appointment. … In my mind I was doing something good.

While working for JRB Solutions, Hageseth would only refill orders and relied on the integrity of those seeking medication not to lie on questionnaires.

And when McKay lied on his form saying he had previously been prescribed the drug fluoxetine by a physician, Hageseth unknowingly provided the drug to McKay for the first time.

"I knew I was stepping outside the bounds," he said. "I admit it doesn't meet the standard of care."

The practice of prescribing drugs through the Internet and using other technological advancements to provide health care is known as telehealth, and Hageseth's lawyer, Carleton Briggs, says that form of care is in grave danger after his client's conviction.

"The ramifications of this case are huge," said Briggs, a California attorney.
"What happens if a California patient goes outside California and wants to be treated? My advice to that doctor is to deny treatment."

Prosecutors in San Mateo County, however, see the case as an example of protecting residents in their state from an unlicensed doctor and as a reminder to doctors to do what they already should be doing: meeting with patients face-to-face before prescribing drugs.

"Anyone should be concerned about prescribing drugs to someone they've never met or someone they've never examined their medical history," said Karen Guidotti, an assistant district attorney in San Mateo County.
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