Five prominent healthcare information technology vendors provided improper gifts and other enticements to officials of an East Meadow, N.Y., teaching hospital as part of an investigation into possible ethics violations at the hospital, New York state officials say.
In a complaint filed April 18 but not made public until this week, the New York State Ethics Commission says three executives and four other employees of Nassau Health Care Corp.--including two physicians--accepted nearly $17,000 in free travel, meals and tickets to New York Islanders playoff hockey games in the process of awarding a multimillion-dollar IT contract.
Nassau Health Care Corp. operates the not-for-profit Nassau University Medical Center, a geriatric center and several outpatient clinics on New York?s Long Island.
The seven individuals named could face a total of $300,000 in administrative fines from the state. The vendors--Cerner Corp., Eclipsys Solutions Corp., Fujifilm Medical Systems USA, Philips Medical Systems and Siemens Medical Solutions USA--are outside the Ethics Commission's jurisdiction.
Nassau on Tuesday awarded Boca Raton, Fla.-based Eclipsys a contract for an electronic medical records system, computerized physician order entry, a clinical data repository and wireless networking. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, though New York state officials say the five vendors entered bids between $12 million and $24 million.
New York state officials say President and CEO Richard Turan, Vice President and CIO Christine Forman, CFO Gary Bie, radiology chairman Paul Moh, M.D., emergency medicine department chair Joan McInerney, M.D., director of information systems Lawrence Honold and registered nurse Judith Eisele took a total of $16,945.24 in gifts from the vendors between Aug. 10, 2001, and July 2, 2002.
"The largest expenditure in terms of Cerner was for airfare and lodging to Cerner (in Kansas City, Mo.) for a site visit," says Cerner spokesperson Dan Trigg. "We were fully reimbursed."
Trigg adds, "You could call a trip to Missouri a perk, but quite a few New Yorkers would take issue with that."
According to Terry Fassberg, a Philips spokesperson in New York City, "We are aware of the situation, we have seen the commission's material, but we have no comment."
In an e-mailed statement to Modern Physician, Siemens officials in Malvern, Pa., say, "Siemens cooperated fully with the investigation of Nassau Health Care Corp., and has no further comment."
A hospital spokesperson was not immediately available for comment Friday afternoon, nor were representatives of Fuji and Eclipsys.