VA continues to hire doctors with revoked licenses

Millions of military service members and their families make sacrifices to protect our country. Because of their selfless service to our country, many assume that these brave individuals receive some of the highest quality medical care through the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Apparently, it’s an ignorant way of viewing the efforts by the VA. Troubling reports continue to shine the spotlight on the VA’s poor practices and care for our veterans.  Recently, reports have revealed the VA’s history of continuing to hire doctors who were able to acquire a license in some states, despite having one (or several) revoked in other states.

Attention has fallen to multiple states including Montana, Iowa, and Wisconsin.

As recently as November, the GAO shared that VA officials were failing to report doctors who should have been reported. Five unidentified hospitals that were examined found that officials were unaware of their delegated responsibility to conduct the reports — a clear lack of accountability within the system for not just one state facility, but across the country.

How was it determined that this is an acceptable government practice for America’s veterans?

It’s not a newly discovered issue — to be frank, a government agency has been in clear violation of federal law for years.

USA Today revealed the VA’s failure to comply with federal law, and reported “a federal law passed in 1999 bars the VA from employing any health care worker whose license has been yanked by any state.”

Yet numerous states across the country have been disregarding federal law and issuing license approvals, putting the safety and health of America’s service members in life-threatening danger.

In Oklahoma, a VA hospital hired a psychiatrist who was previously sanctioned for sexual misconduct and then went on to sleep with a VA patient. In Louisiana, a psychologist with felony convictions was hired and later fired after the VA determined he was a ‘direct threat to others’.

Montana is one of the most heinous cases of ignoring a record of revoked licenses. Neurosurgeon Dr. John Schneider, whose licenses had been revoked from multiple states — including VA facilities in Wyoming, Iowa, Illinois and Missouri — was involved in surgeries that resulted in wrongful deaths and severe complications for patients. Yet the Montana VA hired him anyway.

Many find it troubling that these incidents seem to be more of the norm than the exception for the VA.People have been calling on Senator Jon Tester R-Mont., Ranking Member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, and Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, to do more. The Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee held hearings in November regarding the reporting procedures of VA medical personnel, but many are asking, “is that enough?”