There are 435 members of the U.S. House of Representatives and another 100 U.S. Senators. Some political observers were disappointed that only 31 members of Congress signed on to a recent statement urging the VA to stop hiring doctors who have had medical licenses revoked and who have histories of medical malpractice or other professional misconduct.
Among those who signed the letter sent before the Christmas break was Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke. "We need to ensure our nation's veterans receive the highest quality care from the best providers possible. For the VA to be illegally hiring doctors who failed to meet that standard in their previous jobs is very troubling and absolutely unacceptable," said Rep. Walter B. Jones of North Carolina.
In their letter, the congressional representatives ask what the VA is doing to rid itself of employees who should never have been hired, as well as what actions are being taken against the professional standards boards that green-lighted the hiring of those employees.
This latest VA controversy was triggered by a USA Today report that an Iowa VA hospital had hired a neurosurgeon who admitted that he had lost his medical license and that he had been the focus of more than a dozen medical malpractice claims. The claims against the surgeon included charges that he had made "surgical mistakes that left patients maimed, paralyzed or dead."
VA officials who looked into his hiring found that it was illegal. They also determined that several other doctors in the VA system might have also been improperly hired.
According to federal law, the VA is prohibited from hiring any health care worker (including doctors) who have had their license revoked.
"The hiring of doctors who have had their medical licenses revoked in any state is already prohibited, and clinical hires must be cleared through professional standards boards," the members of Congress wrote in their recently published letter. "However, it appears the laws and regulations establishing that prohibition are not being followed by VA medical facilities."
If you or a family member has been harmed by a negligent VA doctor or hospital, you can speak to an attorney experienced in medical malpractice litigation.