Hospital administrators under investigation?


George Knapp keeps calling it the Medical Mafia investigation while I keep calling it the FBI’s investigation into doctors and lawyers, but apparently, the ongoing probe also extended to hospital administrators.

At least that’s what it said in the Arizona Medical Board’s consent agreement with Las Vegas neurosurgeon Ben Venger.

There I was, looking for the final action against Venger taken by the Nevada Board of Medical Examiners in May, when the Arizona board’s action in June popped up on Google.

The Arizona Medical Board laid out how it initiated action against Venger after learning he testified in federal court in the Noel Gage mistrial. The agreement said Venger approached federal officials and gave them interviews, access to his patient files and business records, and was audited by the IRS. “In addition, the federal government has been investigating numerous individuals, including attorneys, physicians and hospital administrators,” the agreement said.

Well that was the first I’d heard of that.

No names were mentioned and the term “hospital administrators” may cover a wide range of people, not necessarily just the top dogs.

But with the passage of Assembly Bill 10, which could loosen lips of Las Vegas doctors by protecting whistleblower protections, perhaps the investigation may get a boost. (My Monday column delves into how Assemblyman Morse Arberry’s amendment extended whistleblower protection from nurses to doctors, actually giving the docs more protection.)

Venger was a whistleblower in this investigation and after the trial, the Nevada Board of Medical Examiners suspended his license, but stayed the suspension, then placed him on probation for 36 months. He was publicly reprimanded, fined $5,000 and costs of over $12,000, and ordered to perform 805 hours of community.

Arizona authorities looked at Venger’s actions and censured him and ordered him to pay a fine of $5,000.

Venger testified he perjured himself as an expert witness in a case, both in deposition and trial. He took a kickback for referring a case and he produced phony invoices for non-medical services to justify the referral kickback. He did it in order to be protected from malpractice claims … and for money.

If the new law had been in effect, as a protected whistleblower, he would have avoided discipline by the Nevada medical board.

Now about those unnamed hospital administrators … wonder what’s up with that?