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Doctor named in scam back on the job
A doctor who was alleged to have fleeced thousands of dollars from private patients to do blood tests at the public lab at the Arima Health Facility, has been reinstated. However, the move has triggered outrage among staff, with many questioning the basis for the decision.
“Workers are terminated for much more trivial offences and this doctor is still here. We had a worker who was sent home for taking a piece of cheese, while two workers were sent packing for doing a CT-scan on a dog. This is a much more serious offence, and how could the doctor only get a slap on his wrist?” a senior employee told the T&T Guardian.
An internal audit done in May last year showed payments had been made by more than 100 private patients seeking blood tests. However, these patients were unaware the samples were being tested at the public lab at the health facility for free. In some cases, the Guardian learned, patients were asked pay up to $500 for the blood tests. The majority of tests were requested for urology patients.
“Audit was informed by the personnel of the laboratory department that the doctor does not work the floor attending to patients and this was confirmed by officers of the Accident and Emergency (A&E) Department. Nevertheless, according to the laboratory personnel, blood samples with the respective requests for pathological investigation forms were received by the laboratory from the secretary of the A&E on behalf of the doctor for testing,” the report stated.
It was from these findings the audit committee discovered hospital resources were being used to do the blood tests. The audit report said laboratory personnel opted to record the unusual blood test requests as “separate” to protect themselves from any possible conflict.
But questions were raised about why the requests were being recorded separately and personnel were instructed to record all blood tests under A&E.
As a result, the audit was only able to determine the total number of patients for whom laboratory services were requested for the periods October 2008-December 2009 and April-September 2010. The audit also said the monthly reports for the periods before October 2010 were prepared based on the number of patients’ requests for pathological investigation forms and not the number of laboratory tests performed by the department.
The doctor was placed on two months suspension pending the outcome of the investigation. But in an interview on Friday, the doctor dismissed his detractors, insisting his actions were all done in good faith. He said he had no intention of resigning. He also asked why there was an issue over him receiving a warning.
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