VA fails to complete nationwide license review after hiring neurosurgeon with revoked license, malpractice allegations — 5 insights

Shayna Korol -  

U.S. Senators Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa criticized the Department of Veterans Affairs for failing to complete their national review of all VA healthcare providers' licenses by the February 2018 deadline.

Here are five things to know.


1. The review is intended to ensure that no physicians had been hired illegally by the VA. Sens. Ernst and Grassley made the complaint after a December 2017 USA TODAY investigation found the Iowa City VA hospital hired a neurosurgeon whose Wyoming medical license was revoked over malpractice allegations.


2. After the investigation, neurosurgeon John Henry Schneider, MD, resigned, USA Today reports. In December, VA leaders acknowledged to Sens. Grassley and Ernst that Dr. Schneider was hired improperly, and they resolved to review all VA physician records by the end of February.


3. The USA Today investigation detailed that federal law bars the VA from hiring physicians whose licenses have been revoked by state boards even if they still hold active licenses in other states. Dr. Schneider still had a license in Montana even though his Wyoming license was revoked. The investigation uncovered new allegations of malpractice by Dr. Schneider after he started work at the Iowa City VA hospital in 2017. In one instance, Dr. Schneider performed four brain surgeries over the course of four weeks on one 65-year-old veteran who died in August.


4. The VA told the senators that it did not identify a reason to notify patients or their families if they were treated by physicians who should not have been hired because of discipline by state medical boards.


5. In a January response to the senators, the VA wrote "at this time, VA has not made a determination on whether or not to publicize the results of the national licensure review." Senator Grassley claimed that the VA's hiring practice directly impacted the lives of veterans and the VA has an obligation to share the findings of their internal review.


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