Psychologist given suspension by state Made patients' parents also become patients, board rules.

December 03, 1991|By Frank D. Roylance | Frank D. Roylance,Evening Sun Staff

State regulators have suspended the license of a Baltimore psychologist who improperly required the parents of his young patients to become patients themselves.

The state Board of Examiners of Psychologists found that Dr. Galen S. Marburg, of the 6300 block of Harford Road, diagnosed the parents as having "mood" or "anxiety" disorders, then billed insurance companies for psychotherapy sessions with them that did not occur.

In one case, Marburg billed for therapy sessions with the parents on dates when the family was away on vacation.

Marburg told the board he disagreed with its findings and he did not admit to any wrongdoing. He said he agreed to the one-year suspension and waived his right to a hearing before the state Board of Examiners of Psychologists, "to avoid protracted litigation."

In a consent order issued last month, the board found Marburg "professionally incompetent" and guilty of ethical violations. His license to practice psychology in Maryland was ordered suspended at least until Nov. 14, 1992.

Marburg was ordered to take nine graduate credit hours of professional course work. The board may restore his license upon satisfactory completion of the work.

The board's order said that a 7-year-old child was referred to Marburg in January 1988 because he was having difficulty writing and paying attention in school.

Although there was no emergency, the board said Marburg billed a "routine" diagnostic interview with the family as "crisis intervention."

Marburg then administered six hours of psychological tests to each parent and billed the insurance company for scoring and interpreting the tests, which the board said are graded by computers.

The test results were used to support Marburg's diagnosis that both parents suffered from "anxiety disorders." The board said there was no evidence the parents' behavior called for the tests. The board said Marburg told the parents they had to become his patients as a condition of treating their child.

Marburg later billed the insurer for psychotherapy sessions with the parents on dates when they were away on vacation, on a date when he merely wrote a letter to the child's pediatrician, and on dates when the parents were asked to join him during the last 15 minutes of their child's therapy sessions.

The board also said Marburg administered tests to the child that were obsolete or designed for adults or adolescents.

In a separate case, the board said Marburg administered inappropriate personality tests to the parents of a 3-year-old referred to him for "behavioral problems." He then diagnosed the child's mother as having a "depressive disorder," and the father as having a "mood disorder."

They, too, were required to become his patients.

The couple's insurance company was later billed for psychotherapy sessions that did not occur.

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