Prison Doctor Earned $777,000 for No Work

Wednesday, 13 Jul 2011 11:57 AM

By Martin Gould

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The California prison doctor who took home more than $777,000 in pay last year, has twice been sent to mental hospitals, led police on a car chase and is fighting dismissal over alleged incompetence.

Dr. Jeffrey Rohlfing has done no medical work for the past six years and spends his time “reviewing cases,” at High Desert State Prison in California, Prison, TaxpayersSusanville in north eastern California, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Rohlfing’s huge pay packet consisted of his salary plus two years back pay for when he did no work while he was appealing his firing. He won his case but was then assigned to a mailroom because his superiors have no faith in his medical ability.

It was revealed last week that a doctor in the Golden State’s financially strapped prison service was the highest paid employee in the state, but his identity was unknown until Wednesday.

The paper said Rohlfing, 65, is one of dozens of prison doctors who are “earning big money to shuffle paper.” Nancy Kincaid, spokeswoman for the court-appointed receiver in charge of California’s inmate healthcare said it is standard when there are doubts about their clinical ability.

“We want taxpayers to know we had no choice in this,” Kincaid said. "If you are ordered to bring somebody back to work, and you can't trust them with patients, you have to find something for them to do."

Rohlfing’s problems date back to 1996 when he had “a psychiatric crisis” while working at a hospital in Fresno. Medical Board records show he engaged in "bizarre, irrational and delusional communications." After colleagues called police he led them on a car chase before being caught at his home.

He was involuntarily committed to psychiatric wards on two occasions and the Medical Board put him on probation for five years. Even so, the prison service took him on in 2000 while he was still on probation and hired him full-time in 2003. His clinical privileges were revoked in 2005 after an inmate in his care died.

Rohlfing’s attorney Joseph Polockow accused the state prison service is trying to get drive him out. "If you stick a doctor in a room for eight hours a day with no patients, you're making it very hard on him,” he said


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