Four Massachusetts hospitals failed to adequately ensure their doctors were free of infectious diseases before allowing them to practice, according to federal investigators probing the case of a physician who worked for six months while she had tuberculosis.
Boston Medical Center, the surgical resident's principal assignment, didn't follow up after tests indicated she had tuberculosis, according to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. OSHA also concluded that three other hospitals where the doctor worked -- Brockton Hospital, Cape Cod Hospital and the VA Boston Healthcare System -- didn't have any way to gather detailed information on the health of trainee doctors before allowing them to start rotations, the Boston Globe reported.
Officials have never identified the doctor, citing federal privacy laws. She was suspended from treating patients at Boston Medical Center in June. A Boston Medical spokeswoman would not provide any information about her, including whether she had returned to work there.
The federal investigation found the doctor tested positive for tuberculosis as part of a medical review required before she could start at Boston Medical Center. She was referred to a city clinic for an X-ray and other exams, but skipped the appointment. She then continued to work at the four hospitals. Disease trackers have said they believe the woman was infectious from December 2004 through June. Once her illness was discovered, nearly 5,600 patients and healthcare workers were tested for tuberculosis.