Los Angeles County Audit Alleges Improprieties at King/Drew Medical Center
A Los Angeles County audit alleges that Roger Peeks, medical director of Martin Luther King/Drew Medical Center, allowed a radiologist to be paid for hours the radiologist allegedly slept at the hospital and withheld information from investigators who were looking into other allegations of misconduct, the Los Angeles Times reports.
In a confidential May 26 letter obtained by the Times, Sharon Ryzak, chief Department of Health Services auditor, asked the district attorney's office to investigate whether Peeks engaged in "other criminal improprieties." The letter also asked the district attorney's office to investigate whether Peeks and other hospital officials received kickbacks for allowing the radiologist's timesheets to be approved.
The audit alleges that Peeks allowed a temporary agency to be paid $225 per hour for time when radiologist Harold Tate was asleep or on breaks, despite staff objections to the payments. According to the audit, the payments violated Tate's contract and the state constitution, which prohibits gifts of public funds.
In addition, the audit alleges Peeks did not tell investigators that he had provided a private room for Tate, free of charge, in the medical residents' dormitory next to King/Drew. The use of the room also is an illegal gift of public funds, the audit states.
The audit also states that other staff members "acted in a deceptive manner" by directing the temporary agency to record work in eight-hour segments, rather than 24-hour segments to conceal Tate's long shifts.
Sandi Gibson, a spokesperson for the district attorney, said the office was conducting a preliminary inquiry into the allegations.
Tate said he did not do anything wrong and that he worked all the hours for which he was paid.
Peeks denied the allegations against him. He said, "I don't think I've ever done anything improper. I don't know where it's coming from."
The audit recommends that Peeks be disciplined for his actions.
In May, the Board of Supervisors ordered Health Services to take "necessary disciplinary action" against Peeks for "not monitoring and tracking physician work hours accordingly."
Thomas Garthwaite, director of the county Department of Health Services, said he decided not to discipline Peeks or inform Peeks of the audits because of the ongoing investigation by the district attorney's office (Ornstein, Los Angeles Times, 6/24).