State places clinical social worker Alyssa Mandel on probation and restrictions following “Dr. Phil” appearance, false insurance claims

June 5, 2009

Licensed clinical social Worker ALYSSA MANDEL was placed on a probation for a minimum of 12 months with restrictions and conditions.  According to the Board’s report, Mandel agreed to provide free counseling to a family that was participating in several episodes of the “Dr. Phil” show in 2004.  Mandel counseled the family for three months but failed to maintain appropriate client documentation and then participated in a “Dr. Phil” show without obtaining appropriate written release of information authorizations from the family.  Mandel began treatment with a 17-year-old patient.  Though the patient’s mother signed a consent for treatment at $120/hour, Mandel used a different fee structure when billing the mother’s insurance.  Mandel failed to conduct a behavioral health assessment before diagnosing the daughter and failed to maintain appropriate documentation regarding the daughter’s treatment.  Without consulting with daughter’s nutritionist, Mandel recommended in-patient treatment for the daughter’s eating disorder and engaged in a heated discussion about it with the mother in her office and lobby, which included confidential information about the daughter.  Though the mother prohibited Mandel from having further contact with the daughter, she billed the mother’s insurance for telephone sessions with the daughter and father.  Her clinical records did not contain progress notes about these telephonic sessions.  Lastly, in 2006, the insurance company Magellan conducted an audit of 775 of Mandel’s claims and found no evidence that services were provided in over half the claims reviewed.  Mandel disputed Magellan’s findings but nonetheless refunded more than $11,000 to the company.  Mandel retained an independent audit firm to review the 465 claims Magellan disputed.  The firm found some evidence that service had been provided for a majority of the claims but was unable to locate progress notes for 45% of the disputed claims.

(Entry on Alysssa Mandel, license no. LCSW-10473, as found in Arizona Board of Behavioral Health’s Adverse Action Tracking Form, page 16, dated June 26, 2009.)


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