State psych hospital removes psychiatrist who padded hours

June 14, 2012

A contract physician at Torrance State Hospital in Westmoreland County who was singled out in a state auditor's report for allegedly padding his hours and receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars in undeserved compensation has been fired.

Safdar Chaudhary, a psychiatrist who lives in Monroeville and worked at Torrance under a contract with Liberty Healthcare Corp., was terminated from Torrance on Friday, the Department of Public Welfare confirmed today.

The agency said the termination was based "in part" on Auditor General Jack Wagner's findings but would not release any more information, citing rules governing personnel issues.

Although never identified by name, Dr. Chaudhary was central to the audit, released in February, that uncovered what Mr. Wagner called "a tangle" of questionable billings, poor supervision and ethical conflicts at Torrance.

As a result of what the audit found, Mr. Wagner said his office would examine the state's entire contract with Liberty, worth $17.5 million.
The audit cited Dr. Chaudhary's "questionable" work hours, saying he reported working 47 hours a week at Torrance despite running his own private practice and often could not be located on the Torrance campus, even though he had phoned in to say he was there.

The audit said Torrance paid Liberty $414,000 for the all the hours Dr. Chaudhary reported for fiscal year 2010-11, at a rate of $168 an hour. The hospital paid another $331,962 for 2009-10.

In response to the audit, Torrance said it was now requiring all Liberty personnel to sign in and out of the facility.

Source: Torsten Ove, "Pennsylvania removes psychiatrist from Torrance State Hospital," Pittsburgh Post Gazette, June 13, 2012.Print Email Read Later

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