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VA medical inspector steps down

The leader of a Veterans Affairs agency that routinely dismissed whistleblower complaints over shoddy medical treatment has stepped down, according to the department.

Acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson informed Carolyn Lerner, head of the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, that the director of the agency’s Office of the Medical Inspector “retired from federal service effective June 30,” a VA press release states, though it did not name the director.

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The move took place just over a week after Lerner’s office wrote a letter to President Obama and congressional leaders that said officials from the office regularly claimed “harmless error” as a defense for patient neglect instead of taking corrective steps and improving medical care.

The missive detailed nine cases across the country where VA and the inspector received complaints and acknowledged treatment issues but still argued patient care was “unaffected.”

Lerner’s office, which investigates whistleblower complaints throughout the federal government, referred 29 additional cases to the VA for further scrutiny.

Gibson updated Lerner on the “ongoing review of all aspects” of the medical inspector’s office, according to the release.

Gibson also announced that next week Leigh Bradley, the director of the Defense Department’s Standards of Conduct Office, would “temporarily” transfer to the VA to serve as his special counsel.

Bradley, an Air Force veteran, previously served as the VA general counsel and the Navy’s principal deputy general counsel.