Wednesday, December 28, 2005

A Cover-Up at UMDNJ?

The pot continues to boil at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey[UMDNJ]. (See our last post here, with links to prevous ones.)

The University, the largests health sciences university in the US, is currently operating under a federal deferred prosecution agreement. The University has agreed to have its financial affairs run by a federal monitor in exchange for the deferral of criminal indictment of the institution itself. This is the only example known of a university (health sciences or other) subject to such an agreement.

Now, the Newark Star-Ledger, which has doggedly pursued this story, has published allegations that UMDNJ officials have attempted to impede the federal investigation of the University. Specifically,
  • "The university deleted e-mail files on a regular basis - despite orders to retain all documents."
  • "'Veiled threats of retaliation' were made against University Hospital finance official Kathryn Gibbons, a key witness whof irst discovered that UMDNJ and its faculty physicians group were billing for the same services - now the focus of the federal investigation."
  • "UMDNJ's attorneys failed to heed specific instructions from federal prosecutors not to conduct an internal investigation of their own."
NJ Acting Governor Richard Codey said, "There were people that were below the level of the board and the president that were impeding the investigation and may have been engaged in what would be called a 'clear cover-up.'"
State Senator Loretta Weinberg noted, "This place needs to be shaken up, and it is a shame because I really believe there are a lot of good people there, starting with the students and medical staff." This just underlines the horribly demoralizing effect the sort of mismanagement that went on at UMDNJ has on health care professionals and students.
What effect the mess at UMDNJ has had on patients is unknown.
And I am still waiting for this story to break through to the national media, much less the medical and health care literature. An echo? Do I hear an echo? Not yet.

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