Just Another Guy with Opinions

Phony Physicians Face Charges

Posted by shadmia on August 4, 2007


How do you know if your doctor is a real physician? You check his credentials, usually hanging up on the wall of his office. In Puerto Rico this may not be good enough. Federal authorities arrested a total of 91 people, 88 of whom were “doctors” in a scam that provided people, who were not able to pass their certification exams, with fake credentials.

Members of the island’s medical licensing board allegedly recycled old, passing exams under the name of the failed candidates between 2001 and 2005, according to the indictments. According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Jose Ruiz, patterns of repeated test scores suggest the cheating began much earlier than first suspected.

One man who earned a medical degree in Spain failed the exam 16 times between 1974 and 2001 before he was granted a medical license in 2002, according to the indictment. The defendants face charges including mail fraud and making false statements to Medicare. If convicted, most face prison sentences of five to 20 years, said interim U.S. Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodriguez.

It was a pretty blatant scheme,” said Ruiz, who added that investigators were trying to locate rosters from before 2001. “We believe this has happened before.”

This is how the scheme worked: An intermediary would approach a candidate who had failed to pass the test and offer to connect them to members of the licensing board who could help. In some cases as much as $10,000 would change hands. Yolanda Rodriguez, a former board secretary who also was indicted, allegedly received the exams from the intermediaries, cut-and-pasted passages from passing exams, and photocopied the doctored exams for submission as authentic versions, according to court documents.

Milton Carrero, the board’s current president, who is not under suspicion, said:

“There were people inside who defrauded the confidence of everyone, there is no doubt that changes at the licensing board are happening and will continue to happen.”

Rosa Perez Perdomo, Puerto Rico’s Health Department secretary, called it “a very unfortunate situation,” but said the fraudulent doctors’ patients would have no shortage of alternatives among legitimate health care providers in Puerto Rico, where about 10,000 doctors serve a population of 4 million. At least five U.S. states recognize Puerto Rican medical licenses — Arizona, Florida, New York, Texas and Virginia — but Perdomo said none of the suspects were known to have practiced medicine on the U.S. mainland, according to Puerto Rico’s medical licensing board. The doctors were mostly Puerto Ricans who studied medicine in the Dominican Republic, Mexico or Cuba.

Gilberto Rodriguez, who is himself a doctor, and the father of one of the accused, was jailed on a witness tampering charge. He allegedly threatened to kill anyone who cooperated with investigators. A notice taped to the door of his shuttered medical practice in a San Juan strip mall said he was away “on vacation” until Monday.

If the investigators get their way, it will be many, many Mondays before Rodriguez returns.



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2 Responses to “Phony Physicians Face Charges”

  1. batguano101 said

    Do you remember the radio show that had “The rest of the story”.

    I do not question such things going on in Puerto Rico.

    But there is an interesting tid bit that does not appear that might explain some background to such as that:

    The certification examination in the US is used for other purposes than licensing.
    If the AMA wants to close the faucet they clamp down the test and “fail” more.
    If someone demands you “go along to get along” with something you know is wrong, way wrong, they “fail” you by 1 point for years.

    Things are not as they should be in more respects than what you note in Puerto Rico.
    Medical Licensing is not, I repeat NOT, being used to determine competence to practice medicine as it should be.

    This does not condone underhanded dealings in Puerto Rico, but it does explain one of the motivations for them.

    That is a Paul Harvy-like addition to your post: the rest of the story.

  2. batguano101 said

    As a “foreign medical graduate” I thought over what you wrote.

    You reflect on everyone in the title and it skips a few steps.

    A physician, medical doctor, is declared by law through a legally established medical school in a country, not by licensing boards in another country.

    Medical licensing does not grant degrees in medicine, nor can they, which is illegal.

    So a Doctor, who earned a medical degree in a medical school established by law, is not a phony, but a doctor, nothing else.

    If that doctor then goes to the USA, licensing boards pretend, and that is with fraud themselves, to make or unmake a medical degree. This is wrong, and motivated by the misuses of medical licensing in the US.

    So nothing concerning licensing or licensing exams or the bribes demanded, or compromises demanded of doctors to be get a piece of paper called a license to legally practice makes the doctor a fraud, he is already a doctor.

    The use of licensing for purposes that are opposite to the reason licensing was begun, is bad enough without then smearing doctors for refusing to join in corruption.

    I know nothing about the case in Puerto Rico other than graduates were being forced to do something bad because a board was doing something bad.

    I did not join in when demanded to do such as this in the USA, not Puerto Rico, and was told I would not be “passed” on the licensing exam for doctors graduated abroad until I did. So I stopped taking that exam. There was no way to get a license without joining the corruption. The exam has nothing to do with passing, participating in corruption demanded is the sole route to licensing allowed.

    No sir. People who are blocked from a medical license for years because licensing is being misused are not the frauds, rather the abuses of licensing is.

    This is not defending people who were blocked then demanded to “go along to get along”, and chose to do so.

    But no fraud on the part of foreign doctors is taking place, rather extortion to pay by those pretending to be certifying doctors to practice in the USA.

    This is a serious problem.
    Lives and families are harmed while licensing boards pretend to be designating doctors doctors when they already are doctors.

    No licensing board, corrupt or honest, can or does issue a diploma as Doctor of Medicine, only Universities do that or can do that.

    It is time for the general public to see the difference.

    A licensing board for a state may demand participation in corruption to be licensed to practice medicine in that state because they are corrupt but they cannot issue a diploma of Doctor of Medicine, even as a corrupt board.

    Doctors who decline joining the corruption are excluded from practice but they are still doctors.

    Your title is correctly: LICENSING SCAM.

    That is the issue, not phony doctors.

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