Without providing any specifics, the Indiana attorney general has alleged that unlicensed and untrained personnel may be providing medical services and doing medical procedures at several hospitals in the state.
The Indiana Hospital Association reacted skeptically to the allegations raised at a March 23 press conference.
A press release issued by Attorney General Pamela Carter said "housekeeping staff and janitors are performing medical procedures that should be performed by licensed medical doctors and nurses."
Bob Morr, vice president of the IHA, said Carter would have served the public interest better "had the allegations been investigated and found of substance" before calling a news conference.
"We would be very surprised to find documentation that untrained and unsupervised personnel were involved in patient care in Indiana," Morr said.
"It's bothersome that when she was asked to name hospitals or the number of instances, she chose not to do that. Our interest at this point is to sort fact from fiction."
He said the vague reference to housekeepers and janitors performing medical services was the only specific example provided by the attorney general's office.
However, the attorney general's statement further alleged that "hospital personnel trained in basic first aid are performing emergency room procedures such as stapling head wounds." Carter said nurses' aides "are taking on the duties of licensed and trained registered nurses and licensed practical nurses."
The press release closed by inviting consumers to contact the attorney general's consumer protection hotline to report any incidence in which unlicensed or untrained hospital staff perform medical services. Beverly Johnson, spokeswoman for the attorney general, declined to say which of Indiana's 150 hospitals have been accused.
"No details or specifics on numbers or names are being released at this time," she said. "The investigation will continue. When specifics are available, that's when we'll move forward with it."
Johnson said Carter started looking into the matter after receiving information personally. The staff was not told the source of the information or what hospitals were involved, Johnson said.
"Can we substantiate it? That would be verifying or giving you specific incidents, which we cannot do," Johnson said. "The allegations are real, if that's what you're saying. The information came to the office, it's being checked out."
The investigation is being conducted under the attorney general's mandate to protect consumers, Johnson said.
The Indiana Department of Health declined to comment on the attorney general's allegations but said it would cooperate with the investigation.