Transfer of Physicians From the Boston Public Health Service Hospital

HRD-81-69: Published: Apr 1, 1981. Publicly Released: Jun 10, 1981.

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GAO was requested to review several matters pertaining to the administration of Boston's Public Health Service (PHS) hospital. Specifically, GAO addressed the: (1) reasons for, and personnel costs associated with, the transfer of the PHS physicians to private community hospitals; (2) adequacy of compensation arrangements between PHS and the private hospitals; and (3) other reassignment options available to PHS. In addition, GAO was requested to identify Federal regulations governing payback requirements for PHS salaried physicians who receive training at non-Federal facilities.

Eleven physicians were in the internal medicine residency training program at the Boston hospital at June 30, 1980. During July and August 1980, PHS transferred 10 residents from the training program to other hospitals to complete their training. PHS officials said that the reasons for transferring the residents were that: (1) the lack of a sufficient number and mix of patients at the Boston hospital precluded a proper internal medicine training program; and (2) the Liaison Committee on Graduate Medical Education notified PHS that it would withdraw its accreditation of the Boston hospital's internal medicine residency training program after June 30, 1981. PHS could have transferred the residents to other Federal hospitals that had accredited internal medicine training programs, some of which were in the Boston area, but it chose not to do so. Instead, it transferred nine of the residents to private hospitals without receiving compensation for their services. PHS transferred eight of the nine residents from a training program at the Boston hospital, which was accredited until June 30, 1981, by which time the residents could have completed their training requirements, to an unaccredited program. PHS had reassignment options available other than transferring the residents to private hospitals at the Federal Government's expense. The Government would have continued to receive the residents' services or been reimbursed by the private hospitals for their services.

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