Three searches conducted in growing Caja medical supply scandal

Prosecutors and investigators conducted three searches Tuesday in the growing scandal involving the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social.

The initial allegation is that the Caja paid for surgical devices, pins and similar for operations on patients who did not exist.

For now the allegations center on the orthopedic services at Hospital Calderón Guardia in east San José. The case is being handled as an investigation of fraud.

The Poder Judicial said the firm involved collected $2,317,676 for devices used in some 1,022 surgeries done at the hospital mostly in 2010 and 2011.

The hospital was the focus of one search and investigators sought evidence in multiple offices. Also searched were various offices, including auditing, at the Caja, the national health provider.

Investigators also went to the Santa Ana office of the firm, Synthes Costa Rica S.C.R. Ltda.

Most of the devices, implants and supplies sold to the Caja were those used in immobilizing fractures. Most are imported.

Fiscal General Jorge Chavarría was quoted by the Poder Judicial as saying not much more would be disclosed about the case because the proceedings are supposed to be secret at this stage of the investigation.

However, informal reports say that eventually all procurement offices in the Caja will be checked for dealings with the firm.

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