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Some Oklahoma prison doctors, medical staff have less-than-spotless backgrounds, records show

Some doctors and other licensed medical staff working for the Oklahoma Corrections Department have less-than-spotless pasts, public records show.
by Andrew Knittle Modified: October 6, 2012 at 2:18 am •  Published: October 8, 2012
/articleid/3716578/1/pictures/1850954">Photo - A security fence at the Joseph Harp Correctional Center in Lexington, OK., PHOTO BY SARAH PHIPPS, THE OKLAHOMAN ARCHIVES <strong>SARAH PHIPPS</strong>
A security fence at the Joseph Harp Correctional Center in Lexington, OK., PHOTO BY SARAH PHIPPS, THE OKLAHOMAN ARCHIVES SARAH PHIPPS

Balogh, who works at Joseph Harp as a staff physician, also admitted to “diverting drugs of patients by requiring patients to bring all medications to an appointment, then taking ‘handfuls' of the drugs for himself,” the bureau order states.

“Additionally, he endeavored to obtain hydrocodone by getting prescriptions from multiple doctors at the hospital in which he worked.”

Balogh was fined $10,000 by the bureau and is currently practicing under five years' probation.

And not all of the medical staff with spotty backgrounds are doctors.

Wendall Miles, a longtime physician assistant in Oklahoma, had his license revoked in the late 1980s for writing fictitious prescriptions to himself.

According to the licensure board's database, Miles also was disciplined in 1996 for substance abuse issues, earning himself five years probation.

Miles completed his probation in 2001 and has not been cited since.

Documented penalties

While reports of prison medical staff being disciplined have been rare, doctors have faced well-documented penalties while employed by the Corrections Department.

In 1993, a doctor who had left Michigan after his license was revoked in that state was fired by Oklahoma's prison system for similar reasons.

According to complaints by the state licensure board, Gail Williams, a medical doctor, was hired in 1990 to work as a psychiatrist. Within two years, he was already in serious violation of the agreement he made with the state licensure board.

In February 1993, Williams was suspended five days for “touching female subordinates in an unwelcome and unprofessional manner,” according to a disciplinary letter written by Robert Dille, the former director of the correction department's medical services.

Williams denied doing anything wrong.

“I didn't have sex or propose sex or womanize any of these people,” Williams said in 1993. “It was relatively trivial things that were part of everyday behavior by male and female workers.”

Williams lost his license in Michigan during the 1980s for having sex with a patient, lying about having sex with patients and billing improprieties.

He now has full medical licenses in Mississippi and Alabama and continues to work in corrections.

Another chance

A medical professional must have something to offer to get another chance, which typically comes in the form of a restricted medical license, Kelsey said.

“The Department of Corrections, for example, actually determines whether a specific physician is a candidate for hire,” Kelsey said. “If a disciplined physician is hired by the DOC, it is not for the physician's rehabilitation but rather because the physician can provide a needed medical service for the prison system.”

Kelsey said doctors and other medical professionals who are granted conditional licenses are monitored, “regardless of where they work.”

According to board records, hundreds of doctors, physician assistants and other medical professionals have been disciplined over the years.

“As for the Department of Corrections, I can tell you that perception does not match reality,” Kelsey said, “in that physician jobs within the DOC are very good positions.”

by Andrew Knittle
Investigative Reporter
Andrew Knittle has covered state water issues, tribal concerns and major criminal proceedings during his career as an Oklahoma journalist. He has won reporting awards from the state's Associated Press bureau and prides himself on finding a real...
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