Agency Checking Federal Doctor Records for License, Disciplinary Problems
WASHINGTON (AP) _ The names of some 6,000 government doctors are being computer checked with state disciplinary records to determine if any of the physicians are practicing medicine when they shouldn’t be, the Health and Human Services Department says.
Suzan Bibisi, a spokeswoman for HHS Inspector General Richard P. Kusserow, said the match would compare the records of physicians throughout the department with disciplinary files of the Federation of State Medical Boards.
The doctors include employees of the Public Health Service, the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and the Indian Health Service. The computer match, which began Monday and could take up to three months, will cover physicians up to and including Surgeon General C. Everett Koop.
While information provided to the federation varies from state to state, investigators generally expect to find out about doctors whose licenses were suspended or revoked or who surrendered their licenses at the request of state authorities.
Bibisi said Kusserow was acting out of a general concern about physician credentials, heightened by recent reports of unqualified physicians practicing in military hospitals, not because of specific allegations.
″They’re not looking for anything in particular,″ Bibisi said. ″They’re doing this to see what they find.″
The program is the latest in a growing number of investigations by the inspector general that involve matching computer data banks.
They began with a program called ″Project Spectre,″ which compares death statistics with Social Security beneficiary rolls to detect people who attempt to continue receiving the pension checks of relatives who have died.
Kusserow said in a report to Congress that the project is now a routine part of his investigations and has resulted in hundreds of fraud convictions and the recovery of millions of dollars.
Earlier this year, Kusserow checked personnel files of some 41,000 HHS employees who have access to financial programs against FBI arrest and conviction records to determine if the workers truthfully disclosed any past criminal records.
The inspector general’s fiscal year work plan says further computer match programs are scheduled.
They include comparisons of Social Security disability rolls with state unemployment compensation rolls; comparisons of welfare and unemployment rolls against Immigration and Naturalization Service rolls to find illegal aliens drawing benefit checks; and comparisons of welfare rolls with Medicaid and school attendance records to identify people who may be claiming welfare for children who don’t exist.