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Wichita VA Hospital Fires Physician Accused of Botching Operations

The Veterans Affairs hospital in Wichita, Kansas is in the process of firing a urologist who allegedly botched operations while in private practice in the Kansas City, Missouri area several years ago.

In September of this year, Christel O. Wambi-Kiesse came under investigation by the VA in Kansas, after it was reported that Missouri’s Board of Registration for the Healing Arts was seeking to discipline the urologist for harming patients during the performance of robotic surgeries that were beyond his abilities.

According to the board, in 2013, while Christel O. Wambi-Kiesse was working for a now-defunct urology clinic in Missouri, several patients were seriously harmed after coming under his “care”. Specifically, the board cited three examples. One woman, who suffered a punctured bladder while undergoing a biopsy, died from a massive infection two months after the procedure because Wambi-Kiesse failed to repair the damage and, instead, suggested it would heal naturally. Two other men, aged 71 and 68, were also said to have suffered dangerous and life-threatening complications after undergoing prostate surgeries, which took three times longer than they should have.

Aside from the three patients mentioned above, the Missouri complaint also revealed that a peer review committee at Centerpoint Medical Center (the hospital with which his urology group was affiliated) had written a report in 2013 that raised concerns about how Wambi-Kiesse had handled 14 out of 160 surgeries. And, a subsequent review ultimately led to his resignation in March of 2014.

Following his resignation, Wambi-Kiesse traveled across state lines to Kansas, where he was ultimately hired by the VA hospital in Wichita for a position that paid him more than $300,000 a year. What’s more shocking, though, is the fact that Wambi-Kiesse’s name was already on the National Practitioner Database, which lists those doctors who may have a record of misconduct or substandard care. Yet, the VA failed to notice this and hired him anyways.

Unfortunately, why his name was on that list is not public information, and inclusion on the list does not automatically disqualify doctors from working at the VA. However, hiring officers are supposed to follow up and ascertain why an applicant’s name is in the database and determine whether it’s reason enough not to hire him/her. Unfortunately, though, that did not happen in Wambi-Kiesse’s case, and it appears to be an issue amongst VA facilities nationwide.

In fact, earlier this year, the Government Accountability Office filed a report that faulted the VA for not doing their due diligence and checking the credentials of the doctors, as well as other health professionals, that it hires. The report did not single out the Wichita VA hospital, but did say that VA officials have overlooked and/or been unaware of a doctor’s presence on the data bank’s list.

Again, inclusion on the list does not automatically disqualify doctors from working at VA facilities, but it’s imperative that hiring officials begin actually checking this database, especially because the VA recognizes licenses from every state. Not doing so, only serves to put patients at risk by allowing bad doctors to jump state lines and maintain their practices. Our veterans deserve better treatment than this, and the VA should be held accountable for their shortcomings.



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