WHO CAN WE TRUST? –
April 29, 2021 – What his family didn’t know was that Addiction Specialists Inc., often known as ASI, had a history of violating state rules. In a later federal investigation into the facility’s billing and drug distribution practices, a grand jury concluded that a litany of problems occurred at the business many months before and after Adam’s arrival. In the wrongful death suit, a lawyer for the Kalinowski family alleged Adam wasn’t evaluated by a physician when he arrived at ASI, didn’t receive the medication or treatment he needed, became increasingly uneasy and anxious throughout the night, and killed himself. An Allegheny County judge in December 2019 said the business, two of its owners — Rosalind and Sean Sugarmann — and an ASI physician were negligent in caring for Adam. The judge ordered them to pay over $1.6 million in damages, although Ian doubts they ever will.
ASI eventually shut down, two years after Adam died. In recent interviews with Spotlight PA/KHN, the Sugarmanns denied responsibility for Adam’s death and maintained that ASI was a good facility. Rosalind said it helped a lot of people in a rural area with a high drug-overdose rate. At the time of Adam’s death in 2014, the department had taken few disciplinary actions against ASI. It had issued citations and required the company to submit plans to correct them. But the Sugarmanns told Spotlight PA/KHN that, at the time, they didn’t fear the state would shut them down. The department has no standard criteria for when it should force facilities to serve fewer patients and, as of early April, had revoked just one treatment provider’s license in nearly a decade. It doesn’t, as a regular practice, compare facilities to see if any stand out for an unusual number of violations or the most client deaths. And since state inspections focus heavily on records, they can be tricked with fraudulent paperwork, former employees in the treatment field said.