I wonder if Alberta needs to look at their Doctors more instead of Home Inspectors .
They would save the tax payers much money .
**Calgary doctor suspended for billing health services for dead patients **
By: Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press
Posted: 05/30/2011 12:37 PM | Comments: 0](http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/canada/breakingnews/calgary-doctor-suspended-for-billing-health-services-for-dead-patients-.html#comments) | Last Modified: 05/30/2011 5:29 PM
EDMONTON - A Calgary doctor suspended for submitting bills to treat dead people says he was a bad bookkeeper.
“That all happened at a time when I was under a great deal of stress,” said Dr. John van Olm, 60, in an interview.
"I had just lost my mother and it was a difficult time for me, and my judgment was definitely off base.
“There was no consideration that there was any kind of fraudulent behaviour.”
The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta, in a news release issued Monday, announced it had suspended van Olm for a year and a half for unbecoming conduct, effective May 5.
However he can resume his practice after three months, on Aug. 4, provided he takes a course on proper bookkeeping, submits to random audits and pays the costs of his hearing, which total over $99,000.
“If he meets some criteria after that three months, he will be allowed to return to work,” said Kelly Eby, spokeswoman for the college.
In a case that spans five years, van Olm was cited for a number of improper actions, including charging the government for treating patients who were dead.
Van Olm said he was doing rounds in lodges and nursing homes, which meant he saw a lot of patients in a day. Some he would see for a few minutes, some he would see for an hour. But rather than do his books daily, he did them at the end of the week and made mistakes working from memory.
“I sometimes would forget to cross off the name of a patient who had passed away,” he said, adding he didn’t get reimbursed because the patient had died.
The college “made a big deal out of it, which I understand. It’s not a good thing. It doesn’t look good if you bill for somebody who has passed away.”
The college also penalized him for submitting claims that he was seeing a high number of patients. On 12 occasions he claimed to have seen 149 patients or more on a single shift. He said, again, it was the stress of his family life. In addition to caring for his ailing mother, he said he was raising two teenage children alone, all while balancing care for patients on 12-hour shifts. He said he guessed or worked from memory. Sometimes he estimated high, sometimes way too high.
“Since that was brought to my attention I immediately said to the college I won’t see more than 60 patients a day, and I never have”
The probe into van Olm was launched after the doctor visited two of his patients in a lodge. They were war veterans and friends. Van Olm said he was cash poor and needed a three-day loan to tide him over to payday to keep a private school from suspending his son.
One loan was for $1,200, the other for $1,000.
Van Olm said he knew immediately that a doctor seeking money from someone relying on him for care was out of bounds, but said that in his frantic state of mind, he didn’t turn back.
“It was a mistake. There’s no question about it. It’s crossing a border you shouldn’t cross.”
But “I didn’t take advantage of frail, long-term care patients with mental incompetency. They were perfectly with it, (though) that doesn’t make it right.”
He said the loans were repaid immediately. Nevertheless, a third party complained, prompting the college to look into all aspects of van Olm’s practice, cross-referencing patient lists with hospital records in what became a multi-year forensic audit.
David Dear, spokesman for Alberta Justice, said van Olm has not been charged with any criminal offences.
Van Olm, born in Holland, trained in Winnipeg and was a practising doctor in Calgary for more than 30 years. He said he hopes to turn the page in August.
"The worst is over. I’m looking forward to the future, going to my practice that is dear to me, working with my colleagues, my nursing staff and my patients.
“Things now are quite different. And better.”