Torrance State Hospital psychiatrist's contract terminated after audit
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The state has canceled the contract of a physician at Torrance State Hospital who had been accused in an audit of receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars in compensation that he may not have earned.
Safdar Chaudhary, a psychiatrist from Monroeville who worked at the mental hospital under a contract with Liberty Healthcare Corp., was released Friday, the Department of Public Welfare confirmed.
The agency said the move was based "in part" on Auditor General Jack Wagner's findings, released in February, that questioned Dr. Chaudhary's work hours at Torrance.
But the agency would not reveal more information, citing rules governing personnel issues.
Although never identified by name, Dr. Chaudhary was central to the audit, which uncovered what Mr. Wagner called "a tangle" of suspect billings, poor supervision and ethical conflicts at Torrance.
As a result, Mr. Wagner recommended that Dr. Chaudhary's contract be terminated and announced that his office would examine the state's entire contract with Liberty, worth $17.5 million.
The status of that review was unclear Wednesday, and the auditor general's press office could not be reached for comment.
The audit challenged Dr. Chaudhary's hours, saying he reported working 47 hours a week at Torrance despite running his own private practice in Salem, Westmoreland County.
The audit said Torrance employees, including Edna McCutcheon, the chief executive, often could not locate Dr. Chaudhary on the campus even though he had phoned in to say he was there.
The audit said Torrance paid Liberty $414,000 for Dr. Chaudhary's reported hours for fiscal year 2010-11 at the rate of $168 an hour, plus another $331,962 for 2009-10.
The report also said that Torrance inappropriately endorsed Dr. Chaudhary's private practice, called S'eclairer, by partnering with him for conferences that benefited the practice.
Dr. Herbert Chissell, who had supervised Dr. Chaudhary at Torrance, had been listed on the practice's website as a consultant, although he has since been removed from the site.
Dr. Chaudhary declined to comment Wednesday.
In response to the audit, Torrance said it was requiring all Liberty personnel to sign in and out of the facility.
First Published June 14, 2012 10:56 am