Reprimanded Doctors Say They Were the Victims of Fraud
MacIver News Service | February 8, 2012
[Madison, Wisc…] Doctors who handed out sick notes to protesters last year told the Medical Examining Board they did not write fake sick notes, but rather that they were the victims of “fake patients.” These accusations were gleaned from records recently obtained by the MacIver News Service through an open records request with the Medical Examining Board.
One of these “fake patients” was Josiah Cantrall, a blogger who used a fake name to get a doctor’s note and later appeared on Fox News with video of the incident. Cantrall also filed an official complaint with the Medical Examining Board. The Board is overseen by the Department of Safety and Professional Services, formerly named the Department of Regulation and Licensing (DRL).
“When I asked him if I’d get in trouble for this he assured me no, ‘it doesn’t matter if they believe you or not, I’m a licensed physician in this state and I say you should be having that time off to recuperate from this terrible condition,” Cantrall wrote.
Patricia Epstein, the lawyer who represented Dr. Adam Balin before the Medical Examining Board, said, “Dr. Balin vehemently denies that he signed any ‘fake’ sick notes. However what is clear from Mr. Cantrall’s submission is that Mr. Cantrall was a ‘fake’ patient.”
“Dr. Balin believed in good faith that he was providing a sick note to a person suffering from the very real effects of stress,” wrote Epstein. “Dr. Balin feels that he was intentionally defrauded by this individual and that such a fraud should not be rewarded by playing into Mr. Cantrall’s clear political agenda with disciplinary action against Dr. Balin.”
Balin was not the only doctor caught by the Medical Examining Board who sought to shift the onus onto his accusers.
When asked if he wrote any fake sick notes, Dr. Mark Beamsley explained, “I learned that I may have done so inadvertently. From the DRL report I learned that I wrote a note for someone who misrepresented himself to me, using an alias of ‘Peter Drake.’ I don’t know his real name. Since hearing from DRL, I understand this person was apparently not experiencing a medical condition or legitimate symptoms. Instead, he was seeking a work excuse to present to the media. Unfortuantely, I have no recollection of this particular encounter.”
Marie Stanton, who represented the doctors affiliated with the University of Wisconsin, zeroed in on Dan Curran, an Iowa County Board Member who received a work excuse and then handed it over to Ed Ising, who then emailed the Board.
“Apparently, Dan Curran intended and succeeded in duping Dr. Keevil into writing an excuse for a retired person, then Mr. Ising relayed this claimed misconduct to DRL,” stated Stanton.
The Medical Examining Board issued reprimands to seven doctors over the incident in February 2011 where they were handing out sick notes to protesters so they wouldn’t get in trouble for skipping work. The MacIver News Service caught the incident on video and broke the story, which was quickly picked up by media outlets across the country.
State Senator Glenn Grothman (R-West Bend) reacted with what he called “extreme displeasure” at the light punishment handed out to doctors.
“It is important that people have confidence in the integrity of their doctors,” Grothman told MNS last year. “If a medical provider provides phony excuses for friends and political allies, how do we know these same doctors are not making up fraudulent excuses for cases involving workers compensation, personal injury claims, or falsely prescribing prescription drugs?”
The doctors reprimanded by the MEB, and who issued fake sick notes to anyone who wanted one, with only a cursory question and answer ‘session’ are:
Adam H. Balin
Mark B. Beamsley
Hannah M. Keevil
Bernard F. Micke
Kathleen A. Oriel
James H. Shropshire
Louis A. Sanner
Ronni L. Hayon and Patrick A. McKenna had received administrative warnings and were involved in the same incident.
The MacIver News Service broke this story and has video evidence of many of the ‘examinations’ that show the brevity of the interactions and the questions asked. Dr. Sanner even chastized our reporter for violations of patient privacy laws by taping the exams which took place in front of tens of thousands of people on a public sidewalk across from the Wisconsin State Capitol.
These fraudulent sick notes were not without financial damage to employers, Grothman has noted. Further, many school boards and taxpayers, who perhaps had to pay for substitute teachers or parents who were forced to pay for daycare or miss work when schools were needlessly closed the Senator said.
“I would have expected at least a month’s loss of license for so brazenly making up excuses for people who wanted a day off,” said Grothman. “It is also disappointing the University of Wisconsin has not independently suspended doctors under their purview. This will only perpetuate a stereotype that the UW is just concerned about keeping their well-paid employees getting a paycheck and the Medical Examining Board is more concerned about protecting the paychecks of unethical and unscrupulous doctors than maintaining integrity in the medical profession.”
The Medical Examining Board is currently made up of 12 members, only three of which are not members of the medical community.
Grothman is the author of Senate Bill 420, introduced last week, which increases the number of public members on the board from three to five, and requires that three of the public members of the board be representatives of private sector businesses having at least 100 employees.
“It is clear the Good Old Boy Network is too prevalent on the Medical Examining Board and the State Legislature should act to include more private citizens who will express greater concern for fundamental ethics in medicine and restore the public’s confidence in this state licensing board,” said Grothman after the Board issued the reprimands last year. “Perhaps two new members that are employers who have to suffer the consequences of doctors who frivolously approve sick claims will help provide some semblance of balance to the Board.”
Wisconsin Medical Examining Board
|Board Member||Office||Board Member Type||Term Expiration|
|Bronston, Carolyn H||N/A||Public Member||7/1/2012|
|Conterato, James||N/A||Physician Member||7/1/2012|
|Franklin, LaMarr J||N/A||Public Member||7/1/2012|
|Genereaux, Jude||Secretary||Public Member||7/1/2014|
|Kailas, Sujatha||N/A||Physician Member (Specialty: Gastroenterologist)||7/1/2012|
|Mager, Raymond P||N/A||Physician Member (Specialty: DO)||7/1/2014|
|Magiera, Christopher||N/A||Physician Member||7/1/2015|
|Misra, Suresh K||N/A||Physician Member (Specialty: Family Practice)||7/1/2011|
|Musser, Gene||Vice Chairperson||Physician Member (Specialty: Cardiology)||7/1/2013|
|Osborn, Sandra L||N/A||Physician Member (Specialty: Pediatrics)||7/1/2012|
|Simons, Kenneth B.||N/A||Physician (Specialty-Ophthalmology)||7/1/2014|
|Swan , Timothy||N/A||Physician Member||7/1/2013|
|Wasserman, Sheldon A||Chairperson||Physician Member (Specialty: OB/GYN)||7/1/2013|
Medical Examining Board
Department of Safety an Professional Services
1400 East Washington Avenue
PO Box 8935
Madison, WI 53708-8935