OKLAHOMA CITY — An investigation by The Oklahoman shows that more than a third of all doctors in the Oklahoma Department of Corrections have been disciplined at some point during their medical careers.
The newspaper (http://bit.ly/2dkR745 ) reports that the doctors have been disciplined for insurance fraud, alcohol and drug abuse and medication prescribing issues, among other things. The Oklahoman reports that nine of 25 physicians currently on the payroll, including the agency’s chief medical officer, have been previously disciplined.
Clint Castleberry, manager of the state Corrections Department’s Medical Services Division, said health care workers hired to treat prisoners are evaluated on a case-by-case basis before a job is offered. He also said it’s no secret the Corrections Department “has struggled to attract applicants for many positions.”
“Pay can be a factor,” Castleberry said. “The agency is not always able to compete with private-sector salaries.”
Castleberry says there’ve been no suspensions without pay, demotions or discharges of the doctors” currently employed by the prisons system in the past decade.
The state narcotics bureau, which issues registration numbers to Oklahoma physicians who write prescriptions for controlled drugs, can discipline registrants who disobey the agency’s regulations and can prohibit them from prescribing certain narcotic medications.
While Castleberry said all “medical and mental professionals” who run afoul of the Corrections Department’s regulations are supervised by “regional doctors” and reported to their respective licensing boards, agency spokeswoman Terri Watkins said most medical personnel stay out of trouble.
“We went back 10 years, and there were no suspensions without pay, demotions or discharges of the doctors” currently employed by the prisons system, Watkins said.
Records show for some of the disciplined doctors, brushes with state licensing boards were nonrecurring while others faced repeated sanctions.
“The licensing board, as well as the DOC, has a vested interested in seeing these doctors succeed,” Castleberry said.
Information from: The Oklahoman, http://www.newsok.com