After an investigation uncovered 88 cases of a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) surgeon’s errors causing harm to veterans, the U.S. Senate is taking action to improve provider accountability
The original investigation, conducted by USA Today in October 2017, revealed such instances as the surgeon drilling the wrong screw into the bone of a veteran and severing the critical tendon of another. It was discovered that senior VA leadership knew about these serious errors and yet the surgeon was never fired or reported to a national database. He resigned quietly and moved into private practice.
Senator Dean Heller (R-NV), a senior member of the U.S. Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, and Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) have co-sponsored S.2107, The Department of Veterans Affairs Provider Accountability Act, to keep this from happening again. The bill would require the VA to report major adverse personnel actions involving certain VA healthcare employees to the National Practitioner Data Bank and applicable state licensing boards.
S.2107 would also prohibit the VA from signing settlements with fired or dismissed individuals that allow the department to conceal serious medical errors or destroy negative records from personnel files.
Speaking about the bill, Senator Manchin said, “The vast majority of VA healthcare providers are well-trained, caring, patriots who work hard to take care of our nation’s veterans. But, just like in any healthcare system, there are bad apples.”
Providing quality care for our veterans should be a top priority in this nation, and that includes ensuring they are not subject to persistent medical malpractice. While the USA Today investigation revealed only one “bad apple,” the number of veterans under his care were many, and he is now allowed to practice medicine with private citizens. Hopefully this new bill will prevent such cases from happening again and remove negligent practitioners from the VA.