VA hired docs with history of poor care

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A USA Today investigation found the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) knowingly hired physicians with past malpractice claims, poor disciplinary records or who had even had their license revoked—with some going on to be sanctioned by the VA for the same infractions outlined on their applications.

In one instance, a psychiatrist was hired by a VA hospital in Oklahoma after previously being sanctioned for sexual misconduct. He went on to sleep with a VA patient, according to department records.

Another VA hire was neurosurgeon John Henry Schneider, who had his medical license revoked in Wyoming after several complaints from his surgical patients—such as allegedly leaving one paralyzed from the waist down for improper placement of a device in his spinal canal.

Schneider spelled out these claims in applying for a job at a VA hospital in Iowa City, Iowa, and was hired anyway. He later resigned after the USA Today story led the VA to determine his hiring was illegal, as the department can’t hire doctors who have their license revoked in any state, even if they hold an active license in another.

The surgeon himself said he hasn’t provided substandard care, explaining surgical complications can often lead to litigation. Patients who have sued him were shocked to hear he was working at the VA.

“What in the world?” said Scherry Lee, who is awaiting payment for a malpractice complaint against Schneider after a neck surgery in Wyoming in 2012 which she said left her in debilitating pain with difficulty speaking and swallowing. “How does this happen, especially with a neurosurgeon?”

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