KANSAS CITY, Mo. — New reporting shows the Veterans Affairs healthcare system has failed wounded warriors yet again.
The VA let bad doctors keep working by concealing mistakes and misconduct.
Fox 4 has highlighted this issue in Kansas City — our “Scars of War” investigation revealed the Leavenworth VA hospital hired physician’s assistant Mark Wisner in spite of warning signs that were either missed or ignored.
Wisner was accused in dozens of federal lawsuits of sexually abusing the very veterans he was treating.
A Leavenworth County judge sentenced him to more than 15 years in prison earlier this month after he was convicted of criminally abusing patients.
Now a new report from the Government Accountability Office shows the VA should have been reporting dozens — if not hundreds — of clinicians to state medical boards.
The report says the VA failed to report 90 percent of potentially dangerous doctors, putting veterans and the public at serious risk. In some cases, reviews didn’t take place until years after the bad doctors were identified, and nearly half of those reviews had no paper trail.
The findings are not being disputed by the VA, which says major changes are already underway.
“We’re not gonna tolerate people who don’t honor and respect our veterans, and those that have lost their way don’t have a place anymore at VA,” Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin said.
The report found the VA dropped the ball the most when it came to reporting doctors to state authorities and a national database, potentially allowing those doctors to work at other hospitals after being fired from the department.
“We are committed to following all the laws and to reporting physicians when they have disciplinary actions, and this is an example of something that’s unacceptable and that we have to fix,” Shulkin said.
Even with the new controversy, confidence in the system is rising. About 50 percent of veterans trusted the VA in 2014. Now, that number is up to 72 percent.
But officials acknowledge there’s still a long way to go.
“I still look at that as not a passing grade,” White House Senior VA Adviser Jake Leinenkugel said. “We need to get to 85 to 90 percent in the next two years.”
The VA plans to revamp its physician review system by September 2018 and change policies to make sure bad doctors are reported to the national database.
In the meantime, Mark Wisner is behind bars. He’s eligible for parole in three years. But he also faces dozens of civil lawsuits, and prosecutors have not ruled out more criminal charges.