Northville, MI (Law Firm Newswire) February 21, 2018 - The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has enabled hospitals nationwide to hire medical professionals with revoked licenses for more than a decade, a USA Today report revealed.
The VA issued national regulations governing hiring practices in 2002. The guidelines gave medical facilities permission to employ health care workers with revoked licenses, provided they considered the facts related to any disciplinary action and the person still possessed a medical license in another state. However, Congress passed legislation in 1999 that blocked the VA from hiring health care providers with revoked licenses, regardless of licenses in other states.
“The VA’s use of illegal policies seems to have led to doctors, surgeons and other medical professionals being employed to care for veterans when they should never have been hired in the first place,” commented Jim Fausone, a Michigan veterans attorney. “By failing to follow federal regulations, the VA has jeopardized the health of veterans, putting them at risk of harm.”
USA Today reported that the Iowa City VA employed a neurosurgeon despite knowing that he faced several medical malpractice claims. Although Wyoming revoked John Henry Schneider’s license after the death of a patient who was in his care, he still possessed a Montana license.
In addition, Schneider allegedly made surgical errors while working at the Iowa VA. As a result, some of his patients suffered complications. VA officials sought to fire him in November following USA Today’s investigation. He resigned instead.
VA hospitals in Oklahoma, Louisiana and other locations were also found to have hired medical professionals with license discipline and known histories of medical malpractice. In some cases, they resulted in harm to veterans.
Following USA Today’s report, VA Secretary David Shulkin said he instructed the agency to rewrite the hiring guidelines in line with federal laws. “It’s very clear to me that our job is to have the best quality doctors that we can provide to take care of veterans, and that’s going to be our policy,” he said.
The VA is conducting a nationwide probe to ensure other hospitals do not have medical professionals with revoked licenses caring for veterans. Those with reprimands, suspensions or other forms of sanctions will also be evaluated to make sure they are meeting the standards of quality care.
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