A psychiatrist who has been prescribing potent psychotropic medications to immigrant children at a federally-funded treatment center in Texas has been practicing without the medical board certification to treat children for 10 years, Reveal states.
Dr. Javier Ruiz-Nazario has been named in a lawsuit that alleges immigrant children were forced to take mood-altering drugs at Shiloh Treatment Center, whether they need it or not, without their parents’ permission. The children claimed they were tackled, force-fed or injected with “vitamins,” which made them drowsy and dizzy and Ruiz-Nazario was the one who prescribed the drugs.
Ruiz-Nazario was board certified in adult psychiatry in 1998 and recertified in 2008 and his certification remains valid till the end of 2018. He also has a license from the Texas Medical Board, which did not list any investigations into malpractice against the doctor. Records also reveal he got a certificate for child and adolescent psychiatry on Nov. 11, 2000 — but lost it in 2010 after he failed to continue education courses and take an exam that are required by the board.
However, Ruiz-Nazario reported to the Texas Medical Board that he’s certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology for both adult and child psychiatry. It’s not confirmed when he listed these certifications but the board rules state it is the responsibility of physicians to keep their current profile information updated — something Ruiz-Nazario did not do.
The doctor also received $2,576 between 2013 and 2015 from drug companies, including the ones that manufacture Seroquel XR, Latuda and Zoloft. All these drugs were prescribed to children in Shiloh in 2016 and prescribed by Ruiz-Nazario.
Shiloh is categorized as a residential treatment center by the Office of Refugee Resettlement and first housed unaccompanied immigrant minors in 2013. Although the office initially required board certification for grant applicants, it later dropped the requirement.
The Shiloh facility is licensed to house up to 44 children, out of which 32 can be immigrant children, in small buildings and trailers near Marvel, Texas.
One of the allegations against Ruiz-Nazario came from a now 10-year-old boy who was treated at Shiloh for almost six months. However, his mother said she did not give consent for him to be medicated. Officials from the refugee office said the agency doesn’t require parents’ permission to medicate detained children in emergency situations. Attorney representing immigrant children claim workers at Shiloh and other similar facilities routinely sign consent form giving themselves authority to administer mind-altering drugs to kids.
Many children ended up at Shiloh and other treatment center in New York after they showed behaviors that doctors claim require high-level of mental health care. Sometimes, the children are sent to over half a dozen shelters and get stuck in the system for months and even years.
One child who came to the United States said, “ln Shiloh they gave me even more medicine. I took nine pills in the morning and seven in the evening. I don’t know what medications I was taking; no one ever told me that. I don’t know what my diagnosis or illness is. … Some of the staff at Shiloh would provoke the children there and make us angry intentionally. They made us act violently so then we had to be given shots. The staff would insult us and call us names like ‘son of a whore.’ They often did it in English but I understood some English so I would know what they were saying and get really angry.”
Thumbnail/Banner Credits: Reuters