09/26 - State lawmakers launch probe of medical board - East Valley Tribune: News

09/26 - State lawmakers launch probe of medical board

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Posted: Friday, September 26, 2003 9:13 am | Updated: 1:32 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

The state Legislature on Thursday launched a special inquiry into the Arizona Medical Board after two senior lawmakers said they received ‘‘serious allegations’’ concerning the board, which licenses and regulates physicians to protect consumers.

A House-Senate oversight panel authorized the special performance audit requested by Senate Health Committee chairman Carolyn Allen, RScottsdale, and House Health Committee chairman Deb Gullett, R-Phoenix.

It will be conducted by the Auditor General’s Office.

Allen and Gullett said they have received complaints from former board employees and others regarding the medical board, formerly known as the Board of Medical Examiners.

The lawmakers said the ‘‘serious allegations of mismanagement and failing to protect the public’’ concern personnel issues, agency spending and the executive director’s dismissal of patients’ complaints against physicians.

Specifics cited in a letter from Gullett and Allen included a 50 percent to 70 percent turnover rate in critical staff positions, ‘‘questionable purchases of unnecessary and expensive technological equipment upgrades’’ as well as dishes and a dishwasher, and alleged misuse of the director’s authority to dismiss cases.

The special audit is needed ‘‘to clear this up,’’ Allen said. ‘‘It is not a witchhunt.’’

Executive director Barry Cassidy said in a letter read to the Joint Legislative Audit Committee by an aide that the board welcomes the audit as a way to measure its work in protecting the public.

‘‘We are building upon the foundation the Legislature enabled, and are an agency in which the state and its citizens can find truth, honesty and confidence,’’ Cassidy said.

The Auditor General’s Office last conducted a full audit of the medical board in 1998.

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