Hospital CEO uses IT staff to spy on physician

While some hospitals have turned to technology to help monitor employee habits like hand washing, using such tools to spy on employee phone calls is far from a recommended practice.

That, however, didn't stop an Idaho-based hospital CEO from using IT department personnel to monitor the communications of a now former staff doctor. The CEO--Louis Kraml, of Blackfoot, Idaho-based Bingham Memorial Hospital--pleaded guilty last week to misdemeanor stalking charges, according to state Attorney General Lawrence Wasden.

Kraml initially was charged, along with three former hospital IT department employees, in June for various violations of Idaho's wiretap statute, according to Wasden. While charges were dismissed for two of the three employees--Chris Behunin and Tyler Lassen--an arrest warrant was issued for the third--former information services director Jack York--who failed to appear in court. Wasden's office determined that Behhunin and Lassen, who cooperated fully with the investigation, had acted "solely as directed by their supervisors."

Kraml, who "intercepted and recorded" phone calls between former hospital physician Robert Rossin and his staff from June 2009 to August 2010, was sentenced to 30 days in jail suspended, one year of probation, 100 hours of community service and a $1,000 fine after agreeing to a plea deal.

Despite the circumstances, the courtroom was "packed" with employees from the hospital in support of Kraml, the Idaho State Journal reported. Hospital board member Alice Cannon even served as one of three character witnesses for Kraml, saying that the board was "absolutely united in support" of the CEO.

"I know Mr. Kraml values, most of all, the well-being of patients," Cannon said.

Tom Call, the incoming chief of Bingham's medical staff who has worked at the hospital for 11 years--all under Kraml--added that the embattled CEO had the full backing of the hospital staff.

Last September, Kraml told independent investigators that he had no prior knowledge of the recorded phone calls, while York admitted to installing the recording system, but said he couldn't remember who ordered the job, the Teton Valley News reported.

To learn more:
- here's Wasden's announcement
- check out the Idaho State Journal article
- read the Teton Valley News article

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