California Pays Doctor With No Patients Big Bucks for Mail Room Duty

He once had a psychiatric crisis where he engaged in "bizarre, irrational and delusional communications." He led police on a high-speed chase from a hospital to his home. And he was fired from his job for alleged incompetence.

So what does that get you in California, a state struggling with its budget?

Mail room duty with a $770,000 payout.

A California surgeon at a state prison who has not seen a patient in six years because the state is concerned about his medical skills, rakes in a salary that is four times that of the state’s governor, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Dr. Jeffery Rohlfing, 65, is on mail room duty, where he rummages through medical histories.

"We want taxpayers to know we had no choice in this," Nancy Kincaid, spokeswoman for the court-appointed receiver in charge of California's inmate health care, told the Times. "If you are ordered to bring somebody back to work, and you can't trust them with patients, you have to find something for them to do.”

Rohlfing, who had a psychiatric crisis in 1996, was fired from his post in 2007 for alleged incompetence. But he won a lawsuit that ordered the state to reinstate him, according to the report. He got his job back in 2009, and the state was ordered to pay him for the two years he was out fighting the termination. Indeed, his base salary is $235,740 a year; the additional money is back pay.

Joseph Polockow, Rohlfing’s attorney, told the Times that the state is trying to push his client to quit.

"If you stick a doctor in a room for eight hours a day with no patients, you're making it very hard on him and trying to drive him away," Polockow said, according to the paper.

The newspaper reports that dozens of other doctors have been assigned similar tasks at prisons when the state is concerned about their skills.

Click here to read more on this story from the Los Angeles Times.