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Volume: 4
Issue: 02
Date: 12-Feb-96

Table of Contents:

I.    LDF: CT Health Department Drops Charges Against Watsky
II.   LYMENET EDITORIAL: Groundless Watsky Charges Are A Tool
      For Misguided Political Intimidation
      frontal-type dementia associated with Lyme disease
IV.   About The LymeNet Newsletter


*                  The National Lyme Disease Network                  *
*                         LymeNet Newsletter                          *

IDX#                Volume 4 - Number 02 - 2/12/96
IDX#                            INDEX
IDX#  I.    LDF: CT Health Department Drops Charges Against Watsky
IDX#  II.   LYMENET EDITORIAL: Groundless Watsky Charges Are A Tool
IDX#        For Misguided Political Intimidation
IDX#        frontal-type dementia associated with Lyme disease
IDX#  IV.   About The LymeNet Newsletter


        "There are in fact two things, science and opinion;
         the former begets knowledge, the latter ignorance."

        -- Hippocrates, c. 460-377 B.C.

I.    LDF: CT Health Department Drops Charges Against Watsky
Sender: Thomas Forschner <[email protected]>
Date: February 5, 1996 -- FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CT Health Department Drops Charges Against Doctor Treating Chronic
Lyme Disease

George Gunther, Chairman of the Public Health Committee telephoned
Dr. Phil Watsky of Bristol, CT Wednesday night and informed that  
the charges brought against him by the State of Connecticut Dept.
of Health (DOH) had been dropped.  Dr. Watsky was denied
participation into at least two managed care plans due to the

Warren Wollschlager of the DOH called the Lyme Disease Foundation
Thursday morning and confirmed that the department's proceedings
against Dr. Phil Watsky have been stopped.

These charges originated because of a 1993 letter to the DOH
written by a pediatrician accusing Dr. Watsky, a Board Certified
Internist, of over diagnosing, over treating and profiteering from
his Lyme disease patents.  The letter stated that the charges were
based on second hand information.

The DOH initiated an investigation this summer and requested the
records of 2 specific patients (we do not know how they were
selected) from Dr. Watsky.  The profiteering charge and one of the
two patients selected were immediately dropped (both patents are
adults and neither patient had complained about their care).
The remaining adult patient's records were sent out for review by
a pediatrician recommended in the 1993 letter.

After an intense 2 1/2 hour meeting at the DOH on December 12,
1995, where Dr. Watsky was questioned about every aspect of this
one patients care the DOH announced that they would request a
second review of this patients records by another of their

In the last two weeks an outpouring of support in Connecticut and
across the country from Dr. Watsky's colleagues, the Centers for
Disease Control and from the public and was focused on the Governor,
the Commissioner of Health, Chairman Gunther, and the Hospital
administrators of the pediatrician who sent the original letter.

There are however some remaining issues:

* How did the DOH select the patient to be reviewed, was there a
 breach of confidentiality ?
* Donna Brewer, Chief of the DOH's legal office in a letter to
 Watsky advised him that although the investigation was concluded,
 because they couldn't find sufficient evidence to support the
 claim against him the DOH is concerned about health dangers from
 long term IV antibiotic therapy.  The letter also goes on to say
 that the DOH  could "re-examine" the case if more information
 comes to light.

The Lyme Disease Foundation (LDF) supports the decision of the DOH
to drop the case and urges all the parties involved to work together
to address the problems of diagnosing and treating Lyme disease on
a productive and not on a punitive basis.  The medical atmosphere
in the state had been chilled because of the allegations.

This unfortunate episode points out the very significant need for
education, investigation and cooperation to try and deal with the
very complicated and swiftly evolving areas of Chronic Lyme disease
as well as other Tick-Borne disorders.

The Lyme Disease Foundation is actively working to address the
issues of Chronic Lyme disease: (contact LDF Medical Director
Martina Ziska, MD for more information).

* The LDF is conducting an international conference on Chronic Lyme
 Disease on April 19 & 20 in Boston Ma.
* The LDF is also seeking support for a study to address the issue of
 treatment of Chronic Lyme disease.  Answers are at least one year
 away if full funding ($250,000) is obtained.

The Lyme Disease Foundation is a Connecticut based national voluntary
health organization dedicated to making Lyme and other Tick-Borne
illnesses non-risks.  Research, education and advocacy are all used
to achieve this goal.  The Foundation was founded in 1988 to address
the emerging epidemic of Lyme disease throughout the Untied States
and around the world.  For more information on Lyme and other
Tick-borne disorders, call the National Hotline at
800-886-LYME (5963).


II.   LYMENET EDITORIAL: Groundless Watsky Charges Are A Tool For
     Misguided Political Intimidation
Sender: The LymeNet Editorial Team

witch-hunt: n. An investigation carried out ostensibly to uncover
subversive activities but actually used to harass and undermine those
with differing views.

After an extensive inquiry, charges against Dr. Phil Watsky, a family
physician in Bristol, Connecticut, were dropped last week by the
Connecticut Medical Board of Examiners.  Dr. Watsky was under
investigation for the alleged overdiagnosis and overtreatment of
Lyme disease.  In addition, he had been accused of "profiteering"
from "unnecessary" therapies.

The investigation was launched on the basis of a complaint filed in
1993 by Dr. Lawrence Zemel, Director of Pediatric Rheumatology at
Newington Children's Hospital.  No patient or ex-patient of Dr.
Watsky participated in the investigation or in any way suggested that
he or she received anything less than satisfactory care.

Dr. Watsky, like many other front line clinicians in the Lyme disease
arena, is caught in a vice between medical orthodoxy and his
Hippocratic duty to treat his patients to the best of his ability
according to his best medical judgment.  Despite numerous studies --
microbiological, clinical and pathologic -- that expose the poverty
of the current Lyme disease model, the ideologues who control the
Lyme disease debate have been relentless in their refusal to let go
of their dogmas and have continued their campaign of harassment
against the heretics who dare to challenge their views.

In Lyme disease, the "standard of care" as defined by the
academicians who wage war against clinicians like Watsky is
hopelessly outdated in the areas of both diagnosis and treatment.
Claims that patients with Lyme disease invariably test positive on
serologic tests have been repeatedly proved false by culture
isolation of Borrelia burgdorferi, the Lyme disease spirochete, from
seronegative, clinically ill patients.  Likewise, while medical
convention holds that the Lyme disease agent yields to short term
antibiotic therapy, there are scores of cases in the peer-reviewed
medical literature (and thousands of patients across the country)
that prove otherwise.  How many cases -- and how much suffering --
will it take before dogma finally yields to data?

The uncomfortable truth about the clinical management of Lyme disease
in this era is that it is often virtually impossible to tell whether
the spirochetal infection persists in a still-symptomatic patient
who has been treated under the currently recommended protocols. In
the absence of compelling evidence one way or another, the clinician
has little more to go on than his experience, his clinical judgment,
and the patient's response to treatment.  While it is understandable
that this sort of uncertainty makes some physicians uncomfortable,
the solution should not be the imposition of arbitrary, flawed
treatment guidelines that are divorced from reality and do not serve
the patient's best interest.  The standards should serve the
patient, not the other way around.

Unlike AIDS, where medical science has few effective weapons in its
armamentarium, there are treatments that work in some cases of
chronic Lyme disease.  Simple antibiotic therapy, though not always
curative, is often palliative and can control the infection and
prevent or minimize progressive organ damage and relieve suffering
associated with chronic Lyme disease.  We are appalled by the
continued campaign of harassment against physicians like Dr. Watsky
who opt for extended treatment when they feel it best serves the
needs of their patients.  Furthermore, the charge of "profiteering"
was completely without foundation, as Dr. Watsky has no relationship
with any home infusion company.

In carrying out the investigation of Dr. Watsky, the Connecticut
Department of Health has allowed itself to be used as a tool to
maintain the status quo at the very time when change in the standard
of care for Lyme disease is desperately needed.  Through
intimidation, ridicule, collusion with insurers and as informers to
the DOH, physicians affiliated with Yale University and the
University of Connecticut exert a strangle-hold on thought in
Connecticut, the power center of the insurance industry.  Meanwhile,
the DOH turns a blind eye to the far more egregious collaboration
between academic physicians and health insurers in denying
reasonable requests for treatment of individuals seriously ill with
Lyme disease.

These physicians also attempt to interfere with payouts for patients
for disability occasioned by Lyme disease and its aftermath.  Surely
a profitable enterprise for both insurers and consultants, it leaves
patients stranded and desperate, their lives in a shambles, deprived
of the financial support they both need and deserve and for which
they have dutifully paid years of disability and health insurance
premiums.  The morally repugnant symbiosis between the health
insurance industry and the academic physicians who serve as their
"consultants" for Lyme disease cases is far more deserving of state
examination than the actions of a family practice physician simply
trying to do the best he can for his patients.

There are legitimate scientific questions surrounding the issues of
diagnosis and treatment in Lyme disease, but they should be dealt with
in a scientific arena, not a political one.  Having lost out in the
marketplace of ideas, Dr. Zemel resorted to provoking State
intervention into what should have been a private and confidential
matter between Dr. Watsky and his patients.  In suspending its
investigation of Dr. Watsky, the Department of Health appears to
have implicitly acknowledged the groundlessness of the accusations.
Still, the DOH has released no public statement on the matter, not
has it issued an apology to Dr. Watsky. (Dr. Watsky's attorney has
received a letter from the DOH, but has refused to accept its
wording.)  While the action against Dr. Watsky has apparently
fizzled out, it is unlikely that the campaign of innuendo and
intimidation against Lyme disease clinicians is over.

The chill wind still blows -- which is exactly what the ideologues


III.  J NEUROPSYCHIATRY CLIN NEUROSCI: Rapidly progressive frontal-
     type dementia associated with Lyme disease
AUTHORS: Waniek C, Prohovnik I, Kaufman MA, Dwork AJ
ORGANIZATION: New York State Psychiatric Institute, NY 10032
REFERENCE: J Neuropsychiatry Clin Neurosci 1995 Summer;7(3):345-7

The authors report a case of fatal neuropsychiatric Lyme disease (LD)
that was expressed clinically by progressive frontal lobe dementia
and pathologically by severe subcortical degeneration.  Antibiotic
treatment resulted in transient improvement, but the patient relapsed
after the antibiotics were discontinued.  LD must be considered even
in cases with purely psychiatric presentation, and prolonged
antibiotic therapy may be necessary.


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