MacIver News Service | April 28, 2011[Madison, Wisc..] Secrecy continues to shroud the investigation of doctors who issued fake medical excuses to public workers at a Madison.
Wisconsin’s Department of Regulation and Licensing, which houses the State Medical Examining Board, has refused to grant the MacIver Institute’s Open Records Request for the names of the doctors involved in the caper.
“First, we wish to protect the reputational interests of those accused,” wrote Michael Berndt, General Counsel of the Department o. “No determinations have be made to date as to whether an violations have occurred.”
Berndt’s letter did provide a glimmer of hope that the public may someday know more about the whole episode.
“If a disciplinary action is ultimately taken against any individual that action is a public record,” he wrote.
The Department also gave another reason for denying the MacIver Institute’s records request.
‘[A] release of the names at this point in time may interfere with the ability to successfully investigate and if necessary to prosecute these matters,” according to the letter.
MacIver Institute President Brett Healy vowed to continue to focus on the matter.
“We will devote whatever resources necessary to make sure this issue is not swept under the rug,” Healy said. “Some may hope interest in this issue wanes with the passage of time, but we will stay on the case and let the public know what happened to the so-called medical professionals who were involved in this scam.”
In February, the MacIver News Service broke the story, which soon became national news.
“I asked if they were handing out doctors’ excuses and a guy said yes and asked me if I needed one,” said one woman who wished to remain anonymous. “When I told them I needed one for February 16 and 17th, he wondered if I wanted to come back here for the protests next week.”
What happened next shocked her.
“I said, ‘sure,’ and I received a doctor’s note for the 16th through the 25th of February, without a medical exam.”
The notes read
Feb 19, 2011
Date of birth ____/_____/_____
To Whom it May Concern:
This is confirm I have seen and evaluated the above named patient.
Please excuse from work/school due to a medical condition from
Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if additional information is needed. Thank you.
Physician Name WI license number
Based on an examination of the signature and medical license number provided, one of the men handing out these notes was purporting to be James H Shropshire MD, a Clinical Associate Professor at the University Wisconsin Madison. Other UW doctors and medical students were seen in the video which accompanied the MNS story.
Shortly after the incident, Dean Robert Golden of the UW School of Medicine and Public Health announced he’d empowered a a committee to investigate the matter and determine if work rules and/or professional ethics were violated.
On Tuesday Med School announced it had completed its review regarding University of Wisconsin physicians involved in the scam.
“The school will not comment on individual cases. (Our practice of not commenting publicly on specific disciplinary actions is consistent with state law governing the confidentiality of public-employee records in both the public-records law and section 230 of Wisconsin statutes. Hence, the names of those involved and the actions taken will not be disclosed.),” read an unsigned statement issued Tuesday by the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.
The statement said that UW Doctors who participated in the fraud will face consequences ranging from written reprimand to loss of pay and leadership position.