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MedPulse: Did Agency Knowingly Hire Dangerous Doctors?

By: Cohen, Placitella & Roth @ Apr 2, 2018

A recent investigation conducted and reported by USA Today revealed some appalling details about hiring practices at hospitals and clinics operated by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). According to the article published December 3, 2017, the VA hired multiple physicians knowing that they had a history of malpractice claims or disciplinary matters. The author contends that these individuals’ checkered medical backgrounds should have raised red flags, but administrators ignored the warning signs. Instead, they intentionally hired physicians who were clearly unsuitable to practice medicine. While some of the victims who suffered at the hands of these providers have filed medical malpractice claims based on negligence, others are still facing uphill challenges in fighting for their rights.

Shocking Hire at VA in Iowa

Among the most egregious accounts of illegal hiring of a physician at the VA occurred in Iowa City, IA. The doctor in question received his medical license in Montana in 1997, but patient claims for medical malpractice started almost immediately. The most extreme case brought against this negligent doctor was a man who died of complications after four procedures performed at the hands of this one physician.

After several lawsuits, the physician left Montana for Wyoming, where he formed his own insurance company to cover future claims for medical malpractice. From 2006-2012, there were additional complaints from patients that ultimately led to the revocation of his medical license in 2014. Despite numerous malpractice claims and settlements, and the loss of his license, he was still hired by the Iowa City VA hospital. Federal law bars hiring doctors who have a revoked license in any state, which made the hiring of this physician illegal.

Other Lapses in Hiring Doctors

Other examples of improper hiring are still questionable, though not all rise to the level of illegal hiring. VA hospital and clinic administrators have caused suspicion by hiring:

  • An Oklahoma psychiatrist who had been sanctioned on multiple occasions, including one for sexual misconduct;
  • A psychologist with a criminal history of felony convictions, including arrests for burglary, drug offenses, and reckless driving that resulted in the death of a person.

Recourse for Victims

Injured patients may have legal remedies under a medical malpractice claim, which requires proof that:

  • The provider had a duty to provide a level of care according to the accepted norms of the medical community;  
  • That doctor breached this duty through some act or omission during treatment of a patient;
  • The negligent act resulted in injury to the patient; and,
  • The patient suffered losses as a result of the doctor’s negligence.

If successful in establishing these elements, a victim of medical malpractice can recover compensation for such losses as medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages.

You Have Options for Compensation if You Suffer Injuries

If you were injured or a loved one died due to a healthcare provider’s negligence, you may be able to recover compensation for your losses under a medical malpractice claim. Please contact the offices of Cohen, Placitella & Roth to schedule a free consultation with an experienced medical malpractice attorney. We have assisted many victims of medical errors in pursuing their claims, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and throughout the U.S.

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