Will the Department of Veterans Affairs finally get it right? Will the federal agency finally stop covering up medical mistakes and poor care? We don't yet know the answer to those questions, but the VA is pledging an overhaul of its reporting policies; an effort it says will weed out health care workers who deliver substandard care.
The new policies will change reporting of medical errors and shoddy care by doctors and dentists, as well as nurses, physicians' assistants and podiatrists, according to USA Today.
The newspaper's investigation of VA reporting policies prompted an outcry among lawmakers. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rogers, of Washington state, Rep. Phil Roe, Tennessee, and Rep. Bruce Poliquin of Maine introduced legislation to require VA physicians to immediately report directly to state licensing boards any unacceptable behavior they witness by other doctors.
"This bill will help reform the culture at the VA by holding bad actors accountable," said McMorris Rodgers. She said it will keep "them from continuing these mistakes at the VA or elsewhere."
USA Today noted that a podiatrist at the Maine VA hospital harmed 88 veterans. Among them: a patient who chose to have her leg amputated after two failed ankle surgeries that left her in extreme pain. The federal agency didn't report the doctor to the national database designed to keep problem health care providers from moving from state to state to avoid punishment.
Like all others who want only the best care for our nation's veterans, we hope these changes at the VA will begin to undo decades of poor care and cover-ups.
If you or a loved one has been harmed by a negligent doctor at a VA hospital, you can speak with a San Antonio attorney experienced in nationwide medical malpractice litigation.