Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2012 | 12:07 p.m.
CARSON CITY — Doctors hired by Nevada’s prison system may have been paid $1.9 million for hours they didn’t work, an audit found.
The audit found that full-time physicians, who are employed to work four ten-hour shifts a week, put in an average of only 5.3 hours per day. Part-time doctors work two ten-hour days.
“We estimate the annualized unsupported payments for full time doctors and part time doctors for fiscal year 2012 were approximately $1.9 million,” said the report by the Division of Internal Audits in the state Department of Administration.
The 23 physicians at the seven state prisons are paid an hourly rate ranging from $64 to $82.
An audit several years ago found that physicians hired in the state mental health system failed to put in the hours they were paid for, prompting officials to tighten controls.
The prison audit included physicians, dentists and psychiatrists.
The audit says physicians, as exempt employees, are not required to work the full ten-hour daily shift, but standard practice in Nevada is they put in “something equivalent to a 40 hour work week or more.”
Greg Cox, director of the Department of Corrections, said the department has started to track hours actually worked by the physicians.
But Cox said, “To request the doctors to account for their attendance and/or only pay doctors for actual hours worked or privatizing the medical services within the department could subject the state to severe litigation and potential loss greater than the $1.9 million in unsupported payroll expenditures.”