VA facilities in Wisconsin and Minnesota have been misrepresenting the qualifications of their doctors. What a surprise. Not. The VA drags its feet giving information that is requested by Congress. Surprising? Not really. What will also not be surprising is when it comes out that this is not a problem isolated to Wisconsin and Minnesota. Remember all the issues in Phoenix about delayed care and fictitious follow up? Pretty quickly we found Phoenix was just the first of many facilities to be outed. Misstating a doctor’s qualifications is not some sort of esoteric, technical concern. Board certifications and formal qualifications matter. They matter a lot. After doctors graduate from medical school they get a basic license as a physician. Years ago, that was all the training that some doctors got. The did a year of internship and then went on to be general practitioners. Those days are long past. I encountered a few such characters early in my practice - and those guys were pretty old at that point. Almost all doctors go through specialty training after medical school. Often the training is longer than medical school itself. The specialties all have test they administer for a doctor to be “board certified.” Almost all medical specialties now require regular recertification. If a doctor did not pass his or her boards or has not maintained board certification, that is something that a patient has the right to know. It can be an important factor in deciding who should be providing care or doing a given procedure. Why would the VA misstate doctors’ qualifications? This baffles me. The information is really not hard to get in our internet age. Perhaps they assume that their consumers - the veterans they are legally obliged to serve - won’t figure this out. Perhaps it is just institutional arrogance. Or is it institutional ignorance? Maybe all of the above. What we can say with certainty is that it is wrong, very wrong indeed.
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