Taxpayers Pay $777,423 to Prison Doctor Who Isn't Allowed to Treat Patients

The Los Angeles Times reports: "The highest-paid state employee in California last year, a prison surgeon who took home $777,423, has a history of mental illness, was fired once for alleged incompetence and has not been allowed to treat an inmate for six years because medical supervisors don't trust his clinical skills."

Dr. Jeffrey Rohlfing technically works at the High Desert State Prison in Susanville, but since 2005 he has been on paid leave, fired, or fighting his termination. When allowed inside the prison, he is allowed only to review paper medical histories. His base pay is $235,740 per year, and the additional amounts in 2010 included back pay for two years that he did no work for the state while appealing his termination – an appeal that he won before the State Personnel Board.

The Times adds: "Rohlfing isn't the only doctor in California's cash-strapped prisons earning big money to shuffle paper. Dozens have been relegated to the chore in recent years, according to (Nancy Kincaid, spokeswoman for the court-appointed receiver in charge of California's inmate health care), who said it's the standard assignment given to physicians when questions arise about their clinical ability. Some eventually return to treating patients, some quit and others are ultimately fired, she added.

"Last year, a prison doctor who was fired for letting his license expire and was later reinstated by the Personnel Board received $313,610 in back pay, records show. Another, fired for 'extreme departure from the medically accepted standard of care,' was reinstated and collected $298,787 in lost wages. And a surgeon who had been fired, then put on three years' probation, for missed diagnoses that led to the deaths of two inmates and treatment that robbed another inmate of vision, collected $193,779 in back pay." (Source: Los Angeles Times, July 13.)

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