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Ask a Vet
Author: TriSec    Date: 12/05/2017 10:44:55

Good Morning.

We'll head right out to the hospital this morning. We all have a doctor or more medical providers that we should be going to on a regular basis. We'd all like to think that our doctor is the best one - or at least competent, but without being overly alarmed, please try to remember that 50% of all doctors have graduated in the bottom half of their class.


Not necessarily a handicap - they are doctors after all, and generally good enough and smart enough to get into medical school in the first place. But like everything in life, there are going to be those that are simply just not very good.

So why did they all end up at the V.A.?


Neurosurgeon John Henry Schneider racked up more than a dozen malpractice claims and settlements in two states, including cases alleging he made surgical mistakes that left patients maimed, paralyzed or dead.

He was accused of costing one patient bladder and bowel control after placing spinal screws incorrectly, he allegedly left another paralyzed from the waist down after placing a device improperly in his spinal canal. The state of Wyoming revoked his medical license after another surgical patient died.

Schneider then applied for a job earlier this year at the Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in Iowa City, Iowa. He was forthright in his application about the license revocation and other malpractice troubles.

But the VA hired him anyway.

He started work in April at a hospital that serves 184,000 veterans in 50 counties in Iowa, Illinois and Missouri.

Some of his patients already have suffered complications. Schneider performed four brain surgeries in a span of four weeks on one 65-year-old veteran who died in August, according to interviews with Schneider and family members. He has performed three spine surgeries on a 77-year-old Army veteran since July — the last two to try and clean up a lumbar infection from the first, the patient said.

Schneider’s hiring is not an isolated case.

A VA hospital in Oklahoma knowingly hired a psychiatrist previously sanctioned for sexual misconduct who went on to sleep with a VA patient, according to internal documents. A Louisiana VA clinic hired a psychologist with felony convictions. The VA ended up firing him after they determined he was a “direct threat to others” and the VA’s mission.

As a result of USA TODAY’s investigation of Schneider, VA officials determined his hiring — and potentially that of an unknown number of other doctors — was illegal.

Federal law bars the agency from hiring physicians whose license has been revoked by a state board, even if they still hold an active license in another state. Schneider still has a license in Montana, even though his Wyoming license was revoked.

VA spokesman Curt Cashour said agency officials provided hospital officials in Iowa City with “incorrect guidance” green-lighting Schneider’s hire. The VA moved to fire Schneider last Wednesday. He resigned instead.

Cashour also said the VA would look into whether other doctors had been improperly hired.

“We will take the same prompt removal action with any other improper hires we discover,” he said.


Of course, it's taken a Congressional Hearing
to get the V.A. to even acknowledge the problem. At least there is acknowledgement, and a promise to "do better". Sounds like more of the mantra of incompetence to me, though.


WASHINGTON — The Department of Veterans Affairs insisted Wednesday that it was already addressing problems reported by a government watchdog about the agency’s failure to alert other hospitals of potentially unsafe doctors.

The department is trying to improve oversight and more timely reporting of poor-performing doctors to state medical boards, said Gerard Cox, the acting leader of VA’s organizational excellence office.

Cox testified Wednesday to members of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, two days after the Government Accountability Office released findings that the VA was slow to investigate doctors when concerns were raised against them and failed to report doctors to national and state databases designed to warn other hospitals of misconduct.

Though the VA promised to fix the problems, Randal Williamson, who led the GAO team that investigated the issue, told lawmakers there must be “immediate, decisive actions.”

“Otherwise, VA medical centers are potentially putting veterans in harm’s way by exposing them to substandard care,” he said.

Lawmakers used the hearing Wednesday to blast the VA for problems detailed in the report, which focused on five VA hospitals that logged 148 instances of complaints against VA medical providers from 2013 to 2017.

The VA waited multiple months or years to initiate reviews into 16 of those complaints. Nine doctors were disciplined for possible professional incompetence or misconduct, or they resigned to avoid disciplinary action, but the VA didn’t report any of them to state licensing boards. Only one was reported to the National Practitioner Data Bank.

Rep. Jack Bergman, R-Mich., said the VA had a “worrying lack of urgency” about the situation as other lawmakers described the problems as “bureaucratic ineptitude” and “breathtaking mismanagement.” Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., chairman of the House committee and a retired physician, said it was “an embarrassment to the VA and the medical profession.”


Out here in the real world, if we have a lousy doctor, we go someplace else. Mrs. TriSec seems to have a knack for picking out quacks - she's bounced around a bit over the last few years looking for that "right one". I've done much better in that regard, and of course my oncology care has all been well-done.

But for a veteran, and especially one in difficult financial straits, the V.A. is the only place to go for even basic medical care. There is simply no excuse for this kind of incompetence.

We'll finish up by shifting gears and heading over to South Korea. It's likely this will be the next flashpoint, (pun intended). I find the next story to be very alarming indeed. At least there won't really be an increase in veterans needing care after this one - medical care becomes superfluous after one is vaporized, but I digress.


WASHINGTON — Sen. Lindsey Graham says North Korea is pushing the U.S. closer to military conflict and he believes it's time to start moving the families of American military personnel out of South Korea.

The South Carolina Republican said on CBS' "Face the Nation" he is also going to urge the Pentagon not to send any more dependents to South Korea.

Graham, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, says, "It's crazy to send spouses and children to South Korea, given the provocation of North Korea."

About 28,500 U.S. troops are stationed in South Korea to deter potential aggression from the North.

Last week, North Korea fired an intercontinental ballistic missile that some observers say showed the reclusive country's ability to strike the U.S. East Coast.


I've found this useful utility to show how you might make out in a nuclear blast. Javi and Mrs. TriSec have a chance in Waltham, but I work downtown every day now. Even a small Hiroshima-sized device wipes out nearly all my tour route. I worked downtown back during the Cold War, and we used to joke about it in those days. Not so funny now.


 

23 comments (Latest Comment: 12/05/2017 22:02:20 by Raine)
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