Groundbreaking USA Today Investigation Finds VA Found Dangerously Concealing Mistakes
USA Today recently released a groundbreaking report on medical staffer mistakes that have caused harm and led to numerous cover-ups. One of these unfortunate real-life stories involved Dr. Thomas Franchini, who left a path of victims behind him; from operating on patients who did not need surgery at all, to making such severe medical mistakes that one patient even had to have her leg amputated after he failed to properly fuse her ankle and after causing years of pain.
In total, the VA concluded that Franchini made mistakes in approximately 90 cases, which ended up significantly harming veterans. And yet, instead of firing him, they simply allowed him to resign quietly and move onto seeing more patients in private podiatry practice due to a nationwide VA policy that has been in place for close to 30 years: The VA maintains that federal law only mandates that they report medical doctors and dentists versus podiatrists, nurses, physician’s assistants, and any other practitioner who is not classified as “medical” or “dental.”
Unfortunately, Franchini is not alone: USA Today’s investigation found that the VA has been doing this for years with multiple staffers. It’s easy to do when managers conveniently fail to report these practitioners to the National Practitioner Data Bank and/or state licensing boards.
In this instance, the VA policy of notifying state medical licensing boards appears simply to be ignored: over a time span of 10 years, the agency reported fewer than 50 total employees to state medical licensing boards, many of them delayed.
In addition, the VA hospitals evidently entered into secret settlement deals with these health practitioners that promised to conceal these dangerous mistakes at more than 100 facilities in 42 states. In a reported 75 percent of the settlements, the VA actually agreed to purge negative records from the employees’ files. While some of these individuals were barred from working in VA hospitals, the VA also agreed to conceal the reasons why, allowing these practitioners to move onto other locations, outside of the VA, and potentially harm new patients.
What egregious conduct do some of these agreements cover? Some examples involved a hospital director who was sexually harassing other workers and a nurse who left a psychiatric patient bound in leather restraints for hours. A radiologist who consistently misread CT scans, failing to detect tumors, was paid out for his unused sick time and allowed to resign with a clean slate.
Settlements Rewarding Negligence
One example of a settlement entered into with an employee highlights the ethical and moral implications reminiscent of some of these settlements: For example, one of the biggest payments went to Mario DeSanctis, who was the director of one VA medical center known for being a supplier for drugs in the area. At that particular facility, one veteran died two years after he was prescribed a fatal cocktail of 13 drugs. When DeSanctis was fired and fought it, he was paid $163,000 in a deal that the VA struck with him.
Attorneys Committed to Holding Negligent Conduct Accountable
Every year, the VA pays out hundreds of medical malpractice claims for mistakes that harm people. If you’ve been the victim of medical malpractice, contact one of our Fort Lauderdale malpractice attorneys at Friedland & Associates today to find out how we can help.