Hundreds of Doctors Fired by VA May Still Be Treating Veterans

March 12, 2021 | Military Medical Malpractice

Given the sacrifices they’ve made for our country, veterans, at the very least, deserve high-quality medical care and attention. Unfortunately, it appears many veterans are actually being treated by doctors who’ve been fired by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

A new report from the federal Government Accountability Office (GAO) has shed light on the issue, and the military medical malpractice lawyers at Bertram Law Group want to help anyone who’s been injured as a result. Keep reading to learn more.

Why Were the Doctors Fired?

As part of the VA MISSION Act, in May 2019, the VA began tracking providers who were taking care of veterans through various community care programs run by private contractors. The goal is to make sure all doctors are providing adequate care by making sure they meet certain standards. While going through department records, though, VA officials found 227 providers who had been fired prior to May 2019 who were operating in VA community care clinics.

While the GAO report did not list specific reasons why these doctors may have been fired, the VA MISSION Act bans providers from working in community care clinics if they’ve lost their state medical license for offering a poor level of clinical care or for abusing patients.

Why Might the Fired Doctors Be Treating Veterans?

The doctors who have slipped through the cracks took advantage of a bureaucratic loophole, either accidentally or intentionally. Because these providers were fired before the new eligibility standards went into effect in May 2019, there was no way to check if they met the revised eligibility standards unless the private contractors performed the check themselves.

Of the two companies that run the VA’s community care program, Optus and TriWest, only TriWest has a process in place to check if a prospective provider has a valid medical license. Neither company has a sufficient process to monitor providers’ eligibility once they’ve been hired, according to the GAO.

What Optum and TriWest Companies Say

So far, neither Optum nor TriWest has said much about the GAO’s finding. Optum said they will be watching and evaluating their providers for any issues, while TriWest said they’re drafting a plan to make sure providers meet VA standards in the future. But that doesn’t address the poor treatment many veterans may have already received from subpar providers.

What Are the GAO’s Recommendations?

The GAO made three specific recommendations in their report:

  • Have the Secretary of Veterans Affairs require Community Care Network providers to amend their credentialing process to make sure no doctors who have lost their licenses are working in community care clinics.
  • Have the VA’s Undersecretary for Health ensure Community Care Network contractors develop a process to continuously monitor providers to ensure they meet VA eligibility requirements.
  • Have the Secretary of Veterans Affairs and Undersecretary for Health analyze the risk to veterans when they receive care from providers who were previously fired from VA facilities but still care for veterans through the Community Care Network.

Get Legal Help from Experienced Medical Malpractice Lawyers

Our experienced military medical malpractice lawyers at Bertram Law Group have decades of experience helping people in D.C., Virgina and Maryland get compensation for their injuries. Medical malpractice cases are all we do, giving us extensive knowledge in this area, particularly with regard to VA hospital medical malpractice. Get your free initial consultation by calling our office or visiting our contact page.

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