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Watchdog: VA centers failed to report potentially dangerous doctors

Watchdog: VA centers failed to report potentially dangerous doctors
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Five medical centers within the Department of Veterans Affairs failed to report eight potentially dangerous doctors to a national database where such information is collected, according to the results of a government investigation released Monday. 

The Government Accountability Office found in its review of five VA medical centers that 148 providers were reviewed from October 2013 through March 2017 after concerns were raised about their conduct. 

Of the nine medical providers who had actions taken against them or who resigned during the investigation, eight were not reported to the National Practitioner Data Bank, a national database that collects information about the professional conduct and competence of providers.

The database is intended to keep these providers from crossing state lines and finding jobs elsewhere. 

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"In effect, this can help shield the providers from professional accountability outside of VA’s health care system," the GAO wrote in its report.

In one case, a clinician who resigned during an investigation into his actions was not reported to the database and later went on to work at a private hospital in the same city, where he eventually lost his worker's privileges for similar actions.

The report also found that the VA was slow to review providers after concerns were raised about their conduct. 

The VA did not start reviews for 16 providers for three months to multiple years after concerns were raised, according to the report. 

The report also found that half of the 148 reviews were not documented. 

In response to the report, the VA said it planned to revise existing policy to require documentation into reviews of its providers and to establish time frames for the reviews by September 2018. The VA also said it will change policies to ensure timely reporting to the national database by October 2018.