2NEWS Investigators uncover glitch in Oklahoma health care alerting system

Our investigation started two months ago, when Jamie Johnson was looking for a doctor for her 19-month-old daughter, Gabrielle. She started by calling her health care provider, SoonerCare, a state-run service.

"You have to call and set up a PCP," said Johnson.

The name of the Primary Care Physician she was given was Dr. Jennifer Cameron of Tulsa. Jamie made an appointment and a week later, as she made her way to Dr. Cameron's office, she says things got strange.

"I was looking for a doctor's office and pull up into a neighborhood. It's just this yellow, old, broke-down house, and I go inside and there's a desk in the living room," said Johnson.

Then she says someone, not Dr. Cameron, started to examine her baby in the kitchen.

"They took us into the kitchen to do her vitals. They were boiling water on the stove," said Johnson.

Jamie says she never saw Dr. Cameron, even though she had an appointment with her.

Jamie says instead she saw a recent medical school grad. Jamie got the grad school's name and followed up. Turns out she was not a contracted SoonerCare physician.

Jamie started looking into it. She found that Dr. Cameron had made an agreement three months earlier with the Oklahoma Medical Board not to practice.

The Medical Board said due to an on-going investigation it can't give us details about Dr. Cameron's case. However, they did tell us the agreement not to practice still stands today.

After finding out about the agreement Dr. Cameron had made with the Medical Board, Jamie's family called the 2NEWS Investigators.

"I was so mad. If it was me that would be one thing, but it's my daughter," said Johnson.

Jamie wanted to know why SoonerCare listed Dr. Cameron as one of its providers, if she's not supposed to see patients. We wanted to know too, so we went to Becky Pasternik-Ikard of SoonerCare.

She says if a doctor agrees not to practice, "Our process then is to terminate the provider contract with the agency because they are no longer able to meet the responsibilities under their contract," said Pasternik-Ikard.

Yet, three months after Dr. Cameron agreed not to practice, she was still in the database.

After the 2NEWS Investigators showed SoonerCare what we uncovered, they asked to stop the interview so they could leave the room.

After conferencing in the hall for 10 minutes, they returned.

We then talked to the Interim General Counsel, Nicole Nantois.

She told us every time a doctor is disciplined, the state medical board sends an alert to SoonerCare. If a doctor's license is revoked, suspended or the doctor agrees not to practice ,SoonerCare says it immediately takes action to end the contract with the doctor.

But they have only been receiving alerts for revocation and suspensions. However, Nanotis says SoonerCare wasn't get alerts for agreements not to practice.

We took that to the Executive Director of the Medical Board, Lyle Kelsey.

Kelsey said he never knew that SoonerCare wasn't getting alerts for agreements not to practice, until the 2NEWS Investigators told him.

The Medical Board provides the alert service, but it's not a requirement. Kelsey says agencies, like SoonerCare, can find out about disciplinary actions taken by the Medical Board by looking at it's board minutes, or even attending meetings.

Because of the findings of our investigation, the Medical Board and SoonerCare have had several conference calls and meetings. SoonerCare says it thinks they've found the glitch and promise a fix so that no doctor who agrees not to practice is part of the SoonerCare system.

We went to Dr. Cameron's office to ask her why she's accepting appointments if she's agreed not to practice. A woman who answered the door said Dr. Cameron was not in and told us to call the Medical Board. We also reached out by phone for comment. Dr. Cameron did not return our calls.

As a result of our 2NEWS Investigation, SoonerCare took Dr. Cameron's name off the provider directory. We'll continue to track the progress of the updated SoonerCare provider system.

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