VA illegally hired questionable doctors

The Department of Veterans Affairs is responsible for providing medical care to veterans in Ohio and across the country. However, a recent US Today report shows that the VA hired physicians who lost their state licenses to practice for medical malpractice or misconduct.

Federal law prohibits the VA from hiring physicians if a state medical board revoked their license to practice. Their hiring process supposedly includes vetting of applications, verification of education and medical licenses, reviews of references and interviews. A professional standards board must review and approve clinical hires.

However, VA hospital officials may independently review and hire an applicant with a licensing problem that did not rise to license revocation, malpractice or criminal histories. The VA also attracts physicians with past legal problems who cannot secure medical insurance because the VA is responsible for malpractice claims. The USA Today reported several cases where the VA hired doctors with numerous malpractice claims, sanctions for sexual misconduct and botched surgeries.

The VA employed a neurosurgeon for a VA hospital in Iowa City, Iowa who had over a dozen malpractice claims and settlements in two states. Some of these cases included several cases in which he allegedly made a surgical error that caused death and maimed or paralyzed patients. He resigned before the VA could fire him.

In Oklahoma, a VA hospital hired a psychiatrist who was publicly sanctioned for sexual misconduct. He eventually slept with a VA patient.

A VA clinic in Louisiana employed a psychologist with felony convictions in 2004 but later fired him in 2015 after the VA concluded that he directly threatened others. The VA did not conduct a criminal background check until one year after he was hired and still allowed him to practice until there were several complaints about mistreatment. His criminal record included eight arrests for crimes including burglary, drug dealing and reckless driving resulting in death.

A VA hospital in Jackson, Mississippi hired an ophthalmologist who was sanctioned in Georgia. He performed a surgery upon a veteran which led to blindness and he allegedly implanted the wrong lens in another patient's eye. He denied misconduct and a VA investigation indicated that a nurse assisting him caused the blindness.

Victims of medical professional negligence or misconduct should seek legal representation to help assure that they can pursue compensation. An attorney can seek and obtain evidence on malpractice.

Source: USA Today, "USA Today investigation: VA knowingly hires doctors with past malpractice claims, discipline for poor care," By Donovan Slack, Dec, 3, 2017

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