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The University of Michigan’s urology department shares its leadership history, marking without comment the curiously short reign (he left in ’97) of Joseph Oesterling. But here’s a comment, from a local journalist recalling her most important story:

In the early 1990s, I got a tip from an insider at the University of Michigan that Dr. Joseph Oesterling, chief urologist, had scammed the university on expenses and pocketed money from prostate cancer foundations he created. He used the money to build himself a mighty fine mansion. Through FOIA, I and reporter Maryanne George, who was a cub reporter I edited while we both were at the Michigan State News, got reams of information about his expense records showing he double- and triple-billed the university for expenses drug and medical device companies gave him. He resigned in disgrace but only served a brief stint of community service.

We ran a big story including a photo of the house that my newspaper got by hiring a helicopter (with our lawyer’s OK) and shooting it from above. (The house was on a private road with a chain fence that said no trespassing). Turns out the picture we ran was of the back of the house, but that entrance looked so posh it was taken as the front entrance. I used the photo in speeches and the back entrance comment always got good laughs.

The story opened my eyes to the poor oversight of medical professionals by most states.

Poor oversight? You mean just because Oesterling was – until a few days ago – still practicing medicine?

I mean, yes, twenty years after the Michigan thing, plus a 2005 misconduct charge, plus an arrest at the end of December for running a chain of pill mills, Oesterling’s license has finally been suspended… Not taken away, mind you… Wouldn’t want to act hastily…

But – wait for it – he’s still prescribing!

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… Oesterling’s clinics, including one in Caro, prescribed a total of “some 330,000 dosage units of Norco, a (Schedule II) controlled substance, within a 16-month period.

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If you’re anxious about your fix, you’ll be relieved to know he’s out on bond, and with all his money he’ll almost certainly be able to beat these latest charges.

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4 Responses to ““McGuire stepped down in 1992 and H. Barton Grossman, M.D., followed McGuire, serving as section head until the arrival of Dr. Joseph Oesterling in 1994.””

  1. Elizabeth Rodriguiz Says:

    Please note that the “insider” was a temp secretary in the department. People who worked as “permanent” secretaries were too afraid of the surgeons to challenge them. I had worked in a different part of the department and had left by the time Dr. Oesterling came on board, but I well remember the culture of appeasement and fear by the “permanent” staff.

  2. Margaret Soltan Says:

    Elizabeth: Many thanks for that additional information. Thank goodness for the practice of hiring temps – other people tend to have too much at stake to be whistle blowers.

    I think it’s pretty disgusting that with Oesterling looking at going to jail for twenty years UM continues to feature him without comment on its web pages.

  3. Elizabeth Rodriguiz Says:

    Realistically, though, what should the department do? Say “another doctor served in this position 1994-97 before leaving under a cloud”?

  4. Margaret Soltan Says:

    Elizabeth: Yes. Exactly something like that. Different wording, of course – wording that would involve real disclosure. “From 1994-97, Dr. Joseph Oesterling, later dismissed for misappropriation of funds, headed the department.” I’ve seen plenty of universities do something like that. It’s the only way. You can’t not mention them. You can’t do what UM’s trying to do – just throw their name in there. You have to disclose.

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