In February of this year, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report which revealed that some veterans seeking care at the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) have been seen by providers who should have been disqualified from working for the massive veterans health care system.
The VHA runs one of the largest health care systems in the U.S., serving nearly 9 million veterans per year, with more than 1,200 medical facilities across the country, and roughly 165,000 licensed health care providers. Before hiring medical staff, the VHA facilities determine whether medical staff have the appropriate professional qualifications through a credentialing process that involves the National Practitioner Data Bank, a confidential database on medical malpractice payments and other damaging information about practitioners. If practitioners have been disciplined by state licensing boards or a health care facility, they may be disqualified from working at VHA facilities.
Unfortunately, GAO found that VHA has hired ineligible medical staff and practitioners because it missed disqualifying information in the national database (i.e., when a provider has been disciplined by a licensing board) or because those responsible for hiring did not know providers with valid licenses were still ineligible if they had surrendered a license or had one revoked in another state.
For example, in one case, the VHA hired a nurse whose license was revoked for patient neglect, although she has since resigned, according to the report. In another instance, the VHA hired a doctor who had surrendered his physical therapy license for not completing the continuing education.
In effort to fully correct this issue, the GAO recommended that VHA facility officials, who are responsible for hiring and credentialing, get regular mandatory training, that VHA facilities should routinely review provider licenses and take “appropriate action” on those providers who fall short of licensure requirements. Additionally, GAO made a slate of recommendations, which focus on calls for more training, new policies, and additional review of providers.
It should be of utmost importance that our veterans be able to receive care from competent providers who meet VHA’s qualifications, and there is much more that can be done to ensure that is the case. Let’s just hope the necessary changes are made.
If you or someone you know might have been injured as a result of treatment received from disqualified medical personnel and/or negligent medical personnel, do not hesitate to reach out to us. We’re here to help you seek the compensation you deserve.