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Charlie Martin

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February 20, 2011 - 12:04 pm

Following up on my earlier post on medical fraud in Madison (and damn I wish I’d have thought of that hed last night).

I was being rather careful to not name the physicians involved; many of the things I’d linked had suggestions that looked pretty strong, but I hate getting something like that wrong.

The story has moved on now.  Several people have now been identified and quoted in the press.

Dr Lou Sanner, MD has been quoted by the Associated Press:

Doctors from numerous hospitals set up a station near the Capitol to provide notes covering public employees’ absences. Family physician Lou Sanner, 59, of Madison, said he had given out hundreds of notes. Many of the people he spoke with seemed to be suffering from stress, he said.

“What employers have a right to know is if the patient was assessed by a duly licensed physician about time off of work,” Sanner said. “Employers don’t have a right to know the nature of that conversation or the nature of that illness. So it’s as valid as every other work note that I’ve written for the last 30 years.”

Dr Kathy Oriel, MD, who is not just an Associate Professor but also Residency Program Director, was interviewed on WKOW TV (sorry, I can’t seem to embed that video.)  Physician-blogger “Unlikely Hospitalist” has some interesting questions over at Pundit Press.

Right now, it appears likely that these doctors, as well as apparently committing fraud and conspiracy to commit fraud, are also violating medical records laws, confidentiality laws, and may be a little out of the bounds of their malpractice insurance.

Dr Valerie Gilchrist, MD is the chair of the Department of Family Medicine at UW-Madison, and Drs Sanner and Oriel’s supervisor.  I’ve written and asked for comment.

Update

Tom Holsinger, in comments, makes the point that Wisconsin has a qui tam law. That raises interesting possibilities.

Second update

The fun has begun.  According to AP via WMTV Channel 15:

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The University of Wisconsin medical school says it’s investigating reports that doctors from the school handed out medical excuse notes to protesters at the state Capitol this weekend.

Doctors from numerous hospitals set up a station near the Capitol on Saturday to provide notes to explain public employees’ absences from work. One of those doctors was Lou Sanner, who practices family medicine at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. Sanner said he had given out hundreds of notes to protesters and many he spoke with seemed to be suffering from stress.

UW Health said Sunday that any doctors who distributed notes did so on their own behalf. The school didn’t specifically mention Sanner but said it was looking into cases involving any of the school’s doctors.

Charlie Martin writes on science, health, culture and technology for PJ Media. Follow his 13 week diet and exercise experiment on Facebook and at PJ Lifestyle
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